Brazil 'a strategic partner', says Italy

Sao Paulo, Feb 22: Italian Foreign minister Angelino Alfano on Wednesday called Brazil "a strategic partner" for his country, saying he sought strong bilateral ties "on all the complex global issues".

"Brazil, for us, is a strategic partner," Alfano said during a visit to the South American country.

"The political message that I would like to convey therefore is to pursue a strong partnership on all the complex global issues: at a political, economic and socio-cultural level," he said.

Brazil is a great country that offers major opportunities in many sectors, Alfano said, hailing "the creativity and passion for life of its people".

Sao Paulo - Brazil's most populous city - is the first stop on Alfano's trip that will bring him to Brasilia, Belo Horizonte - where he will open the new offices of the Italian Consulate - and Rio de Janeiro, the Italian Foreign M inistry said.

In Brasilia, Alfano is scheduled to meet his Brazilian counterpart as well as its Justice, Economic Planning and Defence Ministers.

The talks will focus on bilateral relations, with a view to stable institutional dialogue, and on economic and trade relations, with a focus on Italian businesses in Brazil, the Foreign Ministry said.

With respect to regional issues, talks will centre on the situation in Venezuela and on the EU-Mercosur agreement, the ministry said.

On a global level, the focus will be on the United Nations, Italy's chairmanship of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and Brazil's candidacy for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), according to the ministry.

Alfano arrived in Brazil on Wednesday from Colombia, where he on Tuesday began a five-day visit to the two countries.