ROME (Reuters) – 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.
(Reporting by Angelo Amante; Editing by Keith Weir)