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Chinese PM visits Italy

Italy: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao was set to seal an economic partnership with Italy on Thursday after fending off EU pressure to increase the value of the yuan to help ease massive trade imbalances.

Wen will meet with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and President Giorgio Napolitano, as well Chinese community leaders during his one-day visit to Rome - the third leg of his week-long trip across Europe, officials said.

"A dozen agreements for cooperation in the economic, justice, cultural, scientific, environmental and financial sectors will be signed," the embassy said in a statement on the eve of the meeting in Rome.

"The two sides will also announce a three-year action plan to reinforce economic collaboration... to define the priority sectors and projects for pragmatic cooperation," it added.

On Tuesday, Wen told a Europe-China business forum: "I say to Europe's leaders - don't join the chorus pressing (China) to revalue the yuan."

He warned such a move would bankrupt many Chinese companies and create social unrest, ultimately increasing global economic instability.

Italy's La Repubblica daily reported earlier that Wen would speak to Berlusconi "about high-speed rail, airports, the ageing ports of southern Italy, highways and industries to be relaunched.

"For China, Italy is one of the most convenient trade platforms on the Mediterranean and the billions from China's sovereign wealth fund are ready to be invested in infrastructure," La Repubblica said. Rome, AFP

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