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Italy hopes India as G20 president may facilitate peace in Ukraine

Ceremonial reception for Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni in New Delhi

NEW DELHI (Reuters) -Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said on Thursday she hoped that India, as G20 president, may facilitate a path towards "just peace" in Ukraine.

Speaking during a press conference with Indian president Narendra Modi in New Delhi, Meloni added that Italy aimed to strengthen its partnership with India on defence and energy security, as well as cybersecurity and other areas.

Meloni landed in Delhi on Thursday for a visit until Friday.

"We both share the hope that India as G20 president can play a central role in facilitating negotiations towards a ceasefire and a just peace", Meloni said, stressing that Italy "fully supports" Kyiv's territorial integrity.

As Meloni and Modi met, G20 foreign ministers were holding talks in New Delhi that looked set to be dominated by Russia's year-long war in Ukraine.

India, which holds the presidency of the G20 bloc this year, has declined to blame Russia for the war and has sought a diplomatic solution while ramping up its purchases of Russian oil.

The foreign ministers' meeting comes days after a meeting of the G20 finance chiefs that was also dominated by the war. That meeting ended with India issuing a "chair's summary and outcome document" instead of a joint communique due to a lack of consensus among the group on condemning Russia.

Meloni, the first Italian prime minister to visit India in almost five years, said her country had "decided to raise relations with India to the level of strategic partnership."

She mentioned digital transition, emerging technologies, space and cybersecurity among the strategic areas "on which we want to collaborate and on which we really believe we can do much more."

(Reporting by Francesca Piscioneri, editing by Alvise Armellini; Editing by Hugh Lawson)