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By Emily Backus

21 febbraio, 13:12
'ITALIAN CHANGE OF GOVERNMENT WILL NOT AFFECT EXPO' (ANSA) - Bergamo, February 21 - Italy's foreign undersecretary has said Italy's incoming government will make Milan Expo 2015 as much of a priority as the last. Italy's cabinet was scuppered last week when Democratic Party (PD) leader Matteo Renzi pulled the plug on his party's premier, Enrico Letta, who resigned last Friday.

"I want to reassure everyone that not only the old government, but also the incoming one considers Expo an absolute priority" and a national project, said Marta Dassu'. "Thus we will move forward, working in a decisive manner," the high ranking ministry official added at a conference in the northern Italian city of Bergamo about theme-based pavilions for the world fair. Italy's foreign ministry, headed by Emma Bonino, has promoted the food-themed Universal Exposition as a conduit for expanding foreign trade, policy and diplomatic relations. PD leader Renzi now has the task of forming a majority coalition. If he succeeds, the Italian foreign minister is expected to remain in her post. Milan Expo 2015 Commissioner Luca Sala was also sanguine about continuing government support for the world fair. "As you know, Italy is in the middle of a change of government, and it is my duty to reassure you support will also be a part of the new government, because Expo is an objective for the entire country," said Sala.

The head of the world fair supervisory body, the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE), also offered assurances, quipping that changes of Italian governments have not hurt Milan Expo 2015 in the past. "From the beginning of the journey of this Expo," said BIE Secretary General Vicente Loscertales, referring to the designation of Milan as world fair host, "The government has already changed a number of times. We are used to it". "Almost everything that should have been provided has already been given. Collaboration is very important, but in this moment it is very important to work," Loscertales added.

Turkey announced this week it was pulling out of the Expo, just days after United Kingdom signed a contract to finalize its participation.

Commissioner Sala expressed optimism that Turkey might return, and supported India's continuing participation in the fair despite diplomatic tensions over the case of two Italian marines held in India for the killing of two fishermen during an anti-piracy mission in 2012. "My opinion is that one must be lucid and detached. I do not agree with the expulsion of India," Sala said on Thursday.

"The subject is political and I will leave that to the foreign ministry. We have the role of working on contracts," Sala added. More than 140 countries are participating in the Universal Exposition, which will place next year from May 31 to October 31 in an area of more than 100 hectares near Milan's massive Rho Pero trade fair exhibition centre.

The world fair theme is "Feeding the planet - Energy for life". The event will tackle issues such as food security, combating hunger, and with promoting environmentally, socially, economically sustainable global food production practices.