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Intelligence at the core of the Italy-India defence deal

Rome’s cabinet has approved the ratification of the cooperation agreement with New Delhi. This includes provisions for information sharing. In February, intelligence chief Belloni joined Raisina Dialogue to discuss China and de-risking

The new agreement. The Council of Ministers officially ratified the implementation of the Defence Cooperation Agreement signed by the Italian and Indian governments on October 9, 2023. The agreement aims to boost cooperation in defence policy, such as R&D and industrial and commercial cooperation, and to promote joint military training. 

  • The agreement opens up cooperation in the field of security services and the exchange of information between the two intelligence services.  
  • Italian Defence Minister Guido Crosetto and Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh signed the agreement.

A strategic partnership. After a diplomatic crisis over a dispute involving two Italian soldiers in the Indian Ocean, the two governments have rebuilt their relationship over the years. In March 2023, during the visit of Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni to India, the two countries elevated their ties to a strategic partnership

  • On the one hand, the new India-Italy relationship testifies to India’s increasingly relevant role in the latest international scenario following the pandemic, increased Chinese assertiveness and Russian aggression in Ukraine.
  • On the other hand, it allows Italy to strengthen the link between the Mediterranean and the Indo-Pacific. 
  • Two significant projects are the Blue & Raman submarine cable system, which will connect Italy to India via the Middle East, and the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (Imec) presented during the Indian G20 last year.

De-risking and friend shoring. At the Raisina Dialogue international forum in New Delhi in February, Elisabetta Belloni, director general of the Department of Information for Security and G7 sherpa for the Italian government, discussed the current geo-economic scenario amid supply-chain risks vis-a-vis China. 

  • Referring to the political decision not to renew the Memorandum of Understanding, she explained that the Italian government “does not want to abandon the Chinese market, but we thought it was necessary to take measures to reduce risks”. 
  • She pointed out that the government’s new strategy is, therefore, to create alternatives by diversifying supply chains and communication and trade networks and strengthening relations with close and friendly countries. 
  • She explained that this is crucial because friend-shoring can act as a deterrent to prevent dependencies from being weaponised. 

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