ROME: Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi confirmed his country’s “commitment and support” to the Iraqi government, which he called a “key ally” in the fight against international terrorism.
Draghi had a long meeting in Rome with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, which was attended also by several ministers of both government.
The meeting was a “fruitful discussion focused on strengthening the historic bilateral partnership and on the main regional challenges,” an Italian diplomatic source told Arab news.
“Italy’s commitment … to ensure the stabilization and socioeconomic development of the country and the Middle East was reaffirmed, starting with the fight against international terrorism and crisis resolution processes,” the source added.
Italian Business and Enterprise Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti told Arab News: “We will soon organize a joint Italian-Iraqi forum with firms from both countries. We are ready to offer our expertise to Iraq in every possible field, and we know that cooperation is possible.”
Italian diplomatic sources said that Draghi confirmed a “significant contingent” of the Italian military will remain in Iraq “in respect of Iraqi sovereignty and in full agreement with the local government,” in order to help the country deal with terrorism.
Al-Kadhimi was also received by Pope Francis in the Vatican. During the meeting, the first following his historic visit to Iraq last March, Pope Francis evoked “the moments of unity experienced by the Iraqi people.”
The pair went on to highlight the importance of protecting the historical presence of Christians in the country with adequate legal measures, and the significant contribution they can make to the common good, highlighting the need to guarantee them the same rights and duties as other citizens.
According to Vatican sources, the pope also noted “the efforts made by Iraq, with the support of the international community, to re-establish a climate of trust and peaceful coexistence.”
Al-Kadhimi gave the pontiff a leather reproduction of Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece “The Last Supper,” made by a female victim of Daesh during her imprisonment, and a wooden cross from the church of Mar Addai in Karemlash. He then had a bilateral meeting with the Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican’s foreign minister.