US diplomacy travels to Rome. Next week, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman will travel to Rome, to meet with senior Italian officials, including Diplomatic Advisor Francesco Talò and Secretary General Ettore Sequi “to discuss mutual priorities, building on President [Joe] Biden’s recent bilateral meeting with Prime Minister [Giorgia] Meloni,” according to a State Department readout.
Transatlantic matters. Talks are expected to include support for Ukraine, facing the Russian invasion, competition with China, the Mediterranean, and Western Balkans.
- Meloni’s government reiterated aid to Ukraine and is preparing to extend the authorization to send military supplies throughout 2023.
- Deputy Secretary Sherman will deliver remarks to university students at LUISS on the importance of the transatlantic partnership, the U.S.-Italy relationship, and continued support to Ukraine.
China talks. After PM Meloni’s opening to President Xi on trade, the focus is on political and industrial relations. “We cannot move from energy dependence on Russia to technological dependence on China,” said Business Minister Adolfo Urso to our sister site.
- Rome’s real test on its China policy will happen next year: by December 2023, Italy shall notify Beijing if it wants to exit the Belt and Road Memorandum of Understanding (as stated by government officials), or it will be automatically renewed.
And to the Holy See. At the Vatican, Deputy Secretary Sherman will discuss shared priorities with Holy See Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
- The bilateral topics are not specified in the State Department’s note. This could highlight the great importance attached by the United States to the meeting at the Vatican – especially Pope Francis’ recent words of condemnation of Russian President Vladimir Putin for the invasion of Ukraine, which drew Moscow’s rage.
Beyond Italy. On December 5 through 11 Ms Sherman will also travel to France, Germany, and the Czech Republic to “further strengthen our bilateral relationships, deepen our unified support for Ukraine, coordinate our response to the Russian Federation’s unprovoked war, and discuss our strategies in the Indo-Pacific,” according to the readout.
- While in Rome, The Deputy Secretary will also meet with UN Food & Agriculture Organization Director-General Qu Dongyu to discuss the ongoing global food security crisis, which has been exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.