ROME - Italy threw its support behind the Philippines' move to hail China to court over the maritime disputes in the South China Sea.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi expressed support for the Philippine move to seek arbitration under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea when he met with President Aquino at the Palazzo Chigi Wednesday evening.
Aquino is in Italy for a three-day working visit.
Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma said both leaders also "discussed threats posed by radicalization and global terrorism."
Aquino thanked Italy for its support for the AFP modernization program following the AFP's acquisition of Agusta choppers from Italy.
Coloma said the two leaders discussed the possibility of increasing trade and investments as well as making the Philippines as "possible manufacturing base" for export products to the European Union, Japan, and the ASEAN.
Filipinos in Italy drew praise from Italy's leaders. Renzi told Aquino Filipino workers are of "good quality" and "highly integrated."
A former mayor of Florence, Renzi said Filipinos "exemplified values of community."
In Aquino's sepatate meeting at the Quirinal Palace, Italian President Sergio Mattarella cited the contributions of Filipinos as well.
Aquino thanked Italy for its support for development projects under the Philippine-Italy Debt for Development Swap Agreement signed two years ago. Under the program, the Philippines' outstanding loans were instead used to fund development and livelihood projects to benefit the poor.
Aquino was congratulated by both Renzi and Mattarella for the country's successful hosting of the APEC meetings and efforts for the peace process in Mindanao.
The President was given separate welcome honors when he was received by Mattarella and Renzi.