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Italy, France Deepen Cooperation       11/27 08:50

   

   ROME (AP) -- Italian Premier Mario Draghi said that a bilateral treaty 
signed on Friday with French President Emmanuel Macron to strengthen bilateral 
cooperation would in turn strengthen the European Union, including such areas 
as defense, aerospace and technology.

   The treaty deepens cooperation "in crucial sectors, from security to 
justice, from research to industry,'' Draghi told a press conference.

   That includes spending to create "a true European defense" that Draghi said 
"obviously is complementary to NATO" and doesn't substitute the alliance.

   "To be sovereign, Europe needs to know how to defend its borders. We need to 
create a real defense,'' he said.

   Draghi also cited the intent to strengthen investments in such key sectors 
as semiconductors, as the global supply chain is hard hit by shortages from 
Asia, as well as in more sustainable energy sources, as countries seek to slow 
the pace of global warming.

   The two countries also signed an agreement on space launchers that will 
increase European competitiveness, consolidating Italian-French cooperation for 
future Ariane 6 and Vega 6 launchers, according to a separate statement.

   Macron said the agreement does not substitute France's longtime friendship 
with Germany, which has been considered key to economic prosperity and security 
in postwar Europe. But he said the two friendships are different.

   "In France, we say that when things get complicated with Germany, we turn 
toward Italy,'' Macron said.

   Among the treaty's provisions is the creation of a Franco-Italian civil 
service and operation center to support law enforcement. In addition, a 
minister from one country will attend a Cabinet meeting of the other every 
three months.

   "Beyond consolidating bilateral relations, the agreement intends to 
encourage and accelerate the process of European integration,'' Draghi said.

   Macron also met with Pope Francis at the Vatican for an hour, and gave him 
two biographies of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of Francis' Jesuit 
order, the Vatican said.

   Macron's office, which noted the audience was only scheduled for 30 minutes, 
said the two men discussed the need to ensure vaccine distribution to all, 
climate change, migration and the situation in Lebanon, among other topics.

   The talks pointed to "a true convergence of views both on global challenges 
and on regional crises threatening to destabilize the rest of the world," the 
Elysee Palace said in a statement.

 
 
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