AP and Reuters

Italy“s Meloni says Biden never raised issue of Belt and Road membership


Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who will visit the White House on Thursday, said that U.S. President Joe Biden had never challenged her on the issue of Rome being part of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Meloni leads the only major Western country to have joined China’s BRI scheme, which envisions rebuilding the old Silk Road to connect China with Asia, Europe and beyond with large infrastructure spending.

“The president of the United States has never directly raised the question with me,” she told a news conference following an international meeting on migration in Rome.

The deal was signed in 2019 under the administration of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, drawing criticism from Washington and Brussels, and Italy is highly unlikely to renew it when it expires early next year.

It has produced little benefit for Italy over the past four years, with exports to China totalling 16.4 billion euros ($18.1 billion) last year from 13 billion euros in 2019.

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Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni holds her end-of-year news conference in Rome, Italy, December 29, 2022. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane/File Photo

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki hold a joint press conference in Warsaw, Poland, July 5, 2023, REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo