Italy\'s prime minister, Mario Monti
Italy\'s prime minister met his Egyptian counterpart Kamal El-Ganzouri in Cairo on Monday and hailed the special relationship that binds the two Mediterranean countries, pledging that their
current level of economic co-operation will continue.
\'\'Italy and Egypt have deeply-rooted and important economic relations,\" Mario Monti said during a joint press conference held in the capital.
\"I am here to reassure Egypt that the Italian presence here is as strong as before and that our continuing to invest here shows our close friendship. We now ask for solid collaboration with Italian entrepreneurs working in Egypt to show that our choice was the right one,\" Monti said.
Italy is one of Egypt\'s main trading partners, ranking only behind the United States in terms of trade volume. Between January and November 2011, Italy was responsible for around $6 billion -- or 6.4 per cent -- of Egypt\'s total foreign trade.
As a key player in the European Union, Italy can also act as a bridge between Egypt and the West when it comes to trade relations, Monti added.
Tourism is also an important connection. More than half a million Italians visited Egypt in 2011, according to state statistics. They were the third largest tourism contingent from the European Union after the UK and Germany.
Italy is also Egypt\'s 10th largest creditor, with Cairo owing Rome around $433.3 million as of the end of the 2010/11 financial year.
The Italian PM also hailed the importance of Egypt\'s uprising.
\"[Egypt] surprised the entire world with its sense of peaceful civil responsibility and patriotism, even waiting for hours to vote for the first time,\" he said.
For his part, Ganzouri stressed the \"great friendship\" between the Italian and Egyptian people, saying it was not just an economic but also a political parnership.