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Italian PM Meloni, China's Li Qiang discuss closer ties at G20 summit

ROME (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni met with China's Premier Li Qiang and discussed deepening ties between the two countries on the sidelines of the G20 summit in New Delhi on Saturday.

During the meeting, the two premiers discussed the common intention to strengthen and deepen the dialogue between Rome and Beijing on key bilateral and international issues, Meloni's office said in a statement.

Italy is seeking ways to resolve a difficult diplomatic call on whether to withdraw from China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a global trade and infrastructure plan modelled on the old Silk Road that linked imperial China and the West.

Beijing is willing to work with Italy to boost mutual trade and investment, but Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, who visited China earlier this week, reiterated on Thursday that a strategic partnership would be more valuable than the BRI.

"Italy and China share a Global Strategic Partnership whose 20th anniversary will recur next year and which will be the beacon for the advancement of friendship and cooperation ... in every area of common interest", the statement said.

(Reporting by Federico Maccioni; Editing by Alexander Smith)