Chirac and Berlusconi hold Paris summit

2nd July 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, July 2 (AFP) - Visiting Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and French President Jacques Chirac on Friday launched their first bilateral summit in 18 months, with the focus on economic cooperation and illegal immigration.

PARIS, July 2 (AFP) - Visiting Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and French President Jacques Chirac on Friday launched their first bilateral summit in 18 months, with the focus on economic cooperation and illegal immigration.

Berlusconi and Chirac smiled and posed for photographers on the steps of the Elysee presidential palace before heading into talks with French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin.

The three-way meeting was to be followed by a plenary session - attended by the defence, finance, foreign, interior and transport ministers from the two countries - and a press conference before a working lunch.

The summit was expected to primarily focus on bilateral cooperation, including a EUR 12.5-billion (USD 15.2-billion) plan to build a transalpine high-speed rail link between Lyon and Turin by 2018.

Ongoing projects in the defence and aeronautics industries, along with the fight to stamp out illegal immigration and European issues, were also expected to figure high on the agenda.

The talks came just two days after a French appeals court voted in favour of extraditing former Italian revolutionary Cesare Battisti, sentenced to life in prison in Italy for his involvement in four murders in the 1970s.

The decision - which Battisti immediately appealed - earned cheers from Italy's political establishment but jeers from Battisti's supporters, including several prominent members of France's left-wing opposition.

The summit also came as Berlusconi faced an internal crisis in his four-party right-wing coalition in the wake of a disappointing showing in European and regional elections held on June 12 and 13.

The last Franco-Italian summit took place in November 2002. The normally yearly meeting did not take place in 2003, as Italy was then holding the rotating presidency of the European Union, sources in Paris said.

 

© AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article