ROME, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Thursday joined his Italian counterpart Silvio Berlusconi here in celebrating the 40th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic ties.
On the jubilant occasion, the two leaders also formally launched the Chinese Culture Year in Italy, a project designed to promote mutual understanding and bilateral friendship between the two countries.
During the past four decades, China-Italy relations have stood the constant changes of the international situation and steadily moved forward, Wen noted.
Currently, the two sides maintain frequent exchanges, enjoy deepened mutual political trust and keep close coordination on major international affairs, he said, adding that bilateral trade and investment and people-to-people exchanges have also witnessed rapid growth.
The relationship between Beijing and Rome provides strong impetus for the development of ties between China and the European Union (EU), while making positive contributions to the peace and development of the whole world, Wen told the massive audience.
China is ready to work together with Italy to seize opportunities and bring bilateral ties to higher levels by sticking to practices of mutual respect, mutual benefit, win-win cooperation, learning from each other, and peaceful development, he said.
Turning to culture, Wen noted that China and Italy are two ancient civilizations, which have been communicating and blending with each other for thousands of years despite the thousands of miles between them and have cast deep influence upon the progress of human civilization.
Since China and Italy launched diplomatic ties, cultural exchanges have been increasingly large in scale, diverse in form and high in level, and the opening of the Chinese Culture Year in Italy marks yet another milestone, Wen said.
When the Chinese Culture Year program reaches ancient yet modern Italian cities like Rome, Milan and Venice, it will surely enhance the understanding and friendship between the two nations, which will then breathe more energy into bilateral exchanges and cooperation in various fields, he added.
Berlusconi, for his part, said that as an influential international player, China plays an increasingly important role in international affairs.
During the past 40 years, Italy-China relations have enjoyed good development all along, he noted, adding that during Wen's visit, the two sides reached important consensus on how to further boost bilateral ties and clarified the priorities in bilateral cooperation.
Italy is willing to seize the opportunities brought forth by China's development to deepen pragmatic cooperation and promote cultural exchanges in order to further advance bilateral ties, he added.
Also on Thursday, the Chinese premier granted awards to some Italian groups and individuals for their contributions to the friendship between the two countries.
Wen arrived in Italy on Wednesday after visits to Greece and Belgium and an unscheduled meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany. He will also visit Turkey before returning to China.