Italy vows to stand by Palestinians over statehood
Italy would support the Palestinian people in their bid for statehood, President Enrico Letta has said. ‘I repeated to President (Mahmoud) Abbas a concept that I firmly believe in - that Italy will never abandon the Palestinian people,’ Letta said after a meeting with Abbas in the West Bank. Letta also stressed the longstanding ties that bound Italy to the Palestinians. ‘The historic ties between our peoples have existed for a very long time and they are relations I am happy to strengthen with this visit,’ he said. Italy will hold bilateral talks for the first time in Ramallah later this year and has opened an office of Italy's foreign trade institute there, he said. Letta said that during his meeting with Abbas, he stressed Italy's support for efforts being made by US Secretary of State John Kerry, Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu and Abbas to get the stalled peace talks moving. ‘Italy is putting all its efforts into ensuring that the peace process goes in the right direction,’ Letta said. He said he told Abbas that Italy and other European nations were ‘firmly convinced’ that the two sides should not miss the latest chance to achieve peace. ‘It really could be the last major opportunity,’ Letta said. Abbas said Palestinians were eager to get back to the negotiating table and termed as ‘constructive’ Kerry's recent diplomatic drive.