ROME (Reuters) – Italy’s Prime Minister said on Tuesday foreign policy had not shifted after the country received aid for the coronavirus emergency from both China and Russia, in a response to an interview with U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
“With regards to the geopolitics of who has received aid, I can confirm that our foreign policy today is identical to yesterday’s,” Giuseppe Conte was quoted as saying in a report by newspaper La Stampa.
On Monday Esper, had told the daily that Russia and China were taking advantage of the virus outbreak to put their interests forward in Europe and “create divisions in NATO and Europe.”
Both countries have offered support to Italy, sending doctors, medical equipment and face masks to the country, which was the first in Europe to be hit hard by the outbreak.
Conte was also quoted as saying that Italy had managed all aid it had received “in total transparency both towards our public opinion and towards our allies”.
“We converse with everyone, but the pillars of our security are NATO and the European Union. And they remain as such,” Defence Minister Lorenzo Guerini said in a separate interview, to daily la Repubblica.
He added that Italy had received aid from several countries, including Europe, the United States, China and Russia but that this had not “changed to the least our traditional frame of international reference.”
(Reporting by Giulia Segreti. Editing by Gerry Doyle)