5-Star new leader Luigi Di Maio gestures during an interview with journalists in Rimini, Italy, September 24, 2017. REUTERS/Max Rossi
CAIRO – 28 August 2018: Italian Deputy Prime Minster Luigi Di Maio expressed Italy’s keenness to establish strong partnership with Egypt in various realms especially in economy relationship and trade exchange between the two countries, Italian Ambassador in Rome Hisham Badr said.
During their meeting on Monday, Di Maio, who also serves as Italy’s economic development minister, said that he has been keen to set Cairo as the first stop on his global tour as an appreciation to the leading role played by Egypt under the leadership of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi in the Middle East region.
Di Maio is set to reach Cairo on Tuesday in a 3-day visit. According to an official statement published by Aki News agency, the Italian official will meet President Sisi and other officials. The statement revealed that Di Maio will discuss bilateral relations between the two countries in fields of energy, infrastructure, economy and trade.
Egypt and Italy have worked on improving relations following the murder of Italian researcher Giulio Regeni in Cairo in 2016.
President Sisi met last July with the Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, in the presence of Mahmoud Tawfiq, Egyptian minister of interior; Abbas Kamel, head of general intelligence and Italian Ambassador in Cairo Giampaolo Cantini.
Sisi affirmed during the meeting that Egypt is keen to reach the final results in the investigations into the murder of Regeni.
Salvini praised the Egyptian authorities' cooperation to unveil the truth and seize the perpetrators of the crime.
On January 25, 2016, the 28-year old Italian postgraduate student Regeni disappeared in Cairo, only for his dead body to be found on February 3 alongside the Cairo-Alexandria highway, bearing signs of torture and beating, according to Reuters. This murder has led to strained relations between Italy and Egypt.
On August 5, Sisi met with Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Enzo Moavero Milanesi in Cairo and expressed his appreciation of the bilateral relations and aspiration for further cooperation.
President Sisi stated that the Egyptian General Prosecution deploys all efforts in investigations of the murder of Italian Ph.D. student Regeni and that it would continue collaborating with its Italian counterpart.
The president stressed the importance of developing the partnership on the economic, trade, and investments scales, capitalizing on the success of cooperation in the oil and gas field as Egypt looks forward to becoming the regional center for gas and energy trade and exchange.
The Italian minister praised the transparency of investigations on Regeni’s death, asserting his confidence that the truth will be uncovered.
The current Italian government was formed in June and is headed by Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, initially a law professor.
During the visit, Milanesi and Egyptian Minister of Antiquities, Khaled el-Enany, embarked on a tour around the temporary exhibition held at the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir square, displaying some important objects from Italian excavations in archaeological sites in Egypt.
Italian Minister of Foreign affairs, Enzo Moavero Milanesi takes a photo of Tutankhamun half statue - Photo via Ancient Egypt Facebook Page The Egyptian-Italian relationship is expected to improve significantly in 2018, following the signing of several new deals and projects between Cairo and Rome, to end their political crisis.
“The Egyptian-Italian relationship is expected to witness a great breakthrough soon as many projects will be uncovered within a few days,” said Badr in January.
In December 2017, Sisi received then Italy’s Interior Minister Marco Minetti to discuss ways of boosting relations between the two countries.
On October 22, 2017, then Italy’s Deputy Foreign Minister Vincenzo Amendola visited Cairo to initiate talks between the two sides, aiming to strengthen the bilateral relations in the economic and trade fields, enhance cultural exchange, and establish continuous coordination on issues relating to security and stability in the Middle East.
In September 2017, Italy decided to send Cantini to Cairo, citing that “investigations in the 2016 murder of Italian post-graduate student in Egypt have seen progress due to cooperation” as the reason.
Progress in Regeni's issue
On January 24, 2018, Egypt’s General Prosecution said that the letter attributed to the head of Egypt's intelligence service on the arrest of Regeni prior to his death in Egypt is a complete fraud.
An unknown person had sent the letter to the Italian Embassy in Bern, Switzerland. The General Prosecution received a letter from the Italian prosecution dated January 22, 2018, containing a fabricated letter dated January 30, 2016 and attributed to the head of Egypt’s intelligence service, the prosecution said in a statement.
The letter claims that Egypt’s security bodies arrested Regeni before his death in Cairo.
Rome’s prosecution demanded that Egypt’s investigation authorities take the necessary measures in order to check the authenticity of the letter in compliance with judicial cooperation between the two countries on Regeni’s murder, according to the statement.
Investigations conducted by Egypt’s prosecution revealed that the letter is forged, read the statement.
The prosecution added that it informed the Italian side about the outcome of investigations within the framework of the bilateral fruitful cooperation.
Meanwhile, the prosecution said it followed up with deep regret the reports circulated by several Italian media outlets and social media pages on the matter, noting that such reports harm judicial cooperation between Cairo and Rome.
On that score, the prosecution urged the media to check the authenticity of such news that provokes the public opinion.
Italy’s prosecutor-general paid several visits to Cairo in order to investigate the death of Regeni, alongside the Egyptian authorities.
In July 2017, Sisi assured a delegation of Italian lawmakers that his government is committed to bring those responsible for the murder of the Italian student to justice.
“President Sisi stressed the need to continue the close cooperation between investigators in the two countries,” his office said in a statement released on July 11, 2017.
“The president reiterated Egypt’s full commitment to working on disclosing the circumstances surrounding the incident so as to determine the perpetrators and bring them to justice,” the statement read.