Wu Bangguo (L), chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of China, shakes hands with Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi in Rome, May 20, 2009. (Xinhua Photo)
ROME, May 20 (Xinhua) -- China's top legislator Wu Bangguo met here Wednesday evening with Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi.
Wu is the first chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) who has visited Italy since 1997.
Before meeting with Berlusconi, Wu also met with Italian Senate President Renato Schifani Wednesday morning and signed an agreement on establishing a mechanism of regular exchanges between the Chinese NPC and the Italian Senate.
During his meetings with Italian leaders in Rome, Wu expressed the willingness of strengthening economic cooperation with Italy as a way to counter the impact of international financial crisis.
In an earlier meeting with Chinese entrepreneurs who are doing business in Italy, Wu said the financial crisis has brought about new opportunities for cooperation between Chinese and Italian companies.
The Italian leaders expressed the willingness to expand cooperation with China in various fields, saying China's economic growth will hopefully provide new energy for the recovery and rally of world economy.
Both sides agreed that the two countries should coordinate their stance on reform of the international financial system and work for an early recovery of global economy from the financial crisis.
China saw an economic growth of 6.1 percent in the first quarter of this year, the lowest quarterly figure in years. Meanwhile, the European Union economy dropped 4.6 percent in the same period.
China and Italy have maintained a sound momentum in bilateral links. The two sides have consolidated political trust and maintained close communication and coordination on major international issues.
Leaders of the two countries have maintained contact on a regular basis. Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi visited China last October and met with Chinese President Hu Jintao. During the meeting, he said Italy places importance on China's role in international affairs and wish to cooperation with China to counter the impact of international financial crisis.
In recent years, the two countries have kept optimizing structure of trade and expanded investment. Bilateral cooperation in science, technology and environment protection have achieved good results.
China held a Year of Italian Culture last year. In a gesture of embracing China as a huge market and potential source of investment, Italy is to hold a "Year of China" in 2010.
Italy has decided to participate in the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, while it has won the host of the 2015 World Expo. The Italian side expressed strong interest in learning from the experience of China as the latter staged successfully the 2008 Olympic Games.