(ANSA) - Rome, June 2 - Fighting organized crime and terrorism, dealing with migrants and developing economic ties in sectors such as technology and infrastructure are among the areas that southeast Asian States are most looking for cooperation with Italy on, ASEAN ambassadors said on Wednesday.
"We are happy to see the role Italy is playing on the migration issue," Malaysia's Ambassador to Rome Dato Abdul Samad Othman told an ANSA Forum, referring to Italian demands for action and efforts to save lives in the Mediterranean migrant crisis.
"I think Italy has a big role to play and we would like to share Italy's experience," he said, while stressing that his country's problems with asylum seekers were not comparable with those of Europe at the moment.
"We are also looking to you on organised crime - how to reduce the threat of organised crime and terror. We want to see more cooperation," he added to the forum organised to present a report by the Ce.S.I (Centro Studi Internazionali) think tank on relations between ASEAN States and Italy and the European Union.
Ce.S.I President Professor Andrea Margelletti pointed out that Italy's efforts to save migrants are nothing new, recalling the Italian Naval missions to rescue boat people in southeast Asia in the 1970s, even though it was not central to Rome's geopolitical interests at the time. "Human lives are a cornerstone of Italian policy. For Italy trust is a custom, not a fashion," Margelletti told the forum.
"Unfortunately we are experts in fighting terrorism and organized crime.
"Italy has expertise on how to destroy (criminal) networks without the use of special laws". Indonesian Ambassador August Parengkuan said Italian President Sergio Mattarella's visit to the region last year had helped raise Italy's profile there.
"It was a very impressive visit. People commented on his peaceful face. A father figure," Parengkuan told the forum, at which several participants stressed the need for Italy and the ASEAN countries to know more about each other.
He said that Indonesia, which is made up of over 13,000 islands, was looking to develop cooperation in infrastructure.
"We need infrastructure to connect our islands, sea ports," said Parengkuan.
"Infrastructure is a top priority and we can learn from Italy, which is surrounded by the sea. "Italy is not just spaghetti and lasagne. It's also high tech, economics". Philippines Ambassador Domingo Nolasco and Myanmar Ambassador Myint Naung were also among the participants at the forum.