Netanyahu and Monti
Netanyahu and Monti Reuters

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met on Thursday with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti. The two signed a joint statement in which they noted the progress that has been achieved in bilateral relations and emphasized their determination to further enhance and expand cooperation in the fields of security, economics, social issues and culture.

The two leaders previously met in April of this year.

At a joint press conference, Prime Minister Netanyahu said, "Italy is one of Israel's European trading partners, and today, thanks to the joint statement and the agreements that we signed, we have provided additional infrastructure for our bilateral relations.

“We also discussed the great challenges – in economics and security, and we reiterated the importance of our position that Iran be prevented from achieving nuclear weapons and that sanctions and international pressure must be applied to this end," he added.

Italian Prime Minister Monti said, "I am pleased to be here for the second time in six months and to note how the friendship between us has grown. We are full of admiration for Israel's achievements in recent years under your leadership.

“As a start-up nation,” added Monti, “Israel has become a model for the world and an inspiration for cooperation between states. In the sensitive field of regional relations, we see Europe's security in Israel's security. We absolutely reject threats to regional stability and denial of the Holocaust. Any threat to Israel is unacceptable."

The two governments also signed a cooperation agreement in the field of high-tech industries; a cooperation agreement on aid to developing countries; a cooperation agreement in the fields of culture, education and science; a cooperation agreement in the field of youth and students; and an agreement on the mutual recognition of driver's licenses.

Last week, Monti addressed a ceremony commemorating the 69th anniversary of the World War II round-up and deportation of over a thousand Roman Jews to Auschwitz, becoming the first Italian premier to attend the annual event.

Monti said that remembering the past is “the way to preserve our history and to draw lessons for the present and, above all, for the future.”

"One cannot help but connect what happened with the round-up in the ghetto with the ignoble racial laws instituted [by Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini in Italy] in 1938," he said.