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General News of Monday, 9 July 2007

Source: GNA

Ghana-Italy to deepen bilateral relations

Accra, July 9, GNA - Ghana and Italy on Monday renewed their resolve to deepen economic and political co-operation between the two countries for the mutual benefit of their peoples.

Speaking to journalists after bilateral talks at the Castle, Osu, President John Agyekum Kufuor, and visiting Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, were unanimous in their assessment of the great prospects for increased partnership.

Relations between the two countries have always been good with Italy playing key role in Ghana's development, particularly in the energy sector.

The Akosombo Hydro-Electric Dam, was constructed by an Italian Company, the Osagyefo Barge, although financed with a Japanese facility was built in Italy, while AGIP, an Italian oil giant, has had a strong presence in the country.

President Kufuor said Ghana wanted a further strengthening of relations with the European country in the business front, to push the private sector of the economy.

He therefore called on the Italian Government to use its institutions to provide the necessary guarantees for its businesses that were ready to invest in the country.

Additionally, capacity building, technology transfer and exchange programmes between Ghanaian and Italian tertiary institutions were areas that needed to engage priority attention.

President Kufuor said this had become even more important, given Ghana's recent discovery of oil and the Italians vast experience and technological know-how in the energy sector.

He said in the area of agriculture, there were a lot the country could learn from its European counterpart, especially with regard to the development and packaging of tomatoes, oil-palm and shea-butter. President Kufuor conveyed to the Italian Government and people, Ghana's gratefulness for the cancellation of 42 million Euros debt owed that country following the attainment of the HIPC completion point. President Napolitano, who is in the country for a three-day state visit, said his presence was a sign of the attention and respect for Ghana's role in the international arena.

He said they used the bilateral talks to take stock of their political co-operation as both countries were members of the United Nations (UN) Security Council.

They also reviewed the situations in trouble spots like the Sudan's Darfur region and Somalia and the impact on Africa's stability. President Napolitano said the two leaders expressed their deepest concern for the humanitarian crises in those areas.

There was an affirmation of joint commitment to the training of civilian personnel attached to peacekeeping missions. The Italian President would visit Ghana's Parliament, the Ohene Djan Sports Stadium and the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park later in the day. 09 July 07