Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen arrived in Rome on Thursday, kicking off the second stop on a diplomatic tour that began on Wednesday in Serbia.
“Italy is one of Israel’s greatest friends in Europe and has significant influence in the international arena,” said Cohen upon his arrival.
Cohen will meet with his Italian counterpart, as well as Italy’s deputy prime minister, before heading to Vatican City, where he is expected to sit down with Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States.
The last time an Israeli foreign minister visited the Vatican was in 2011. Pope Francis traveled to Israel nine years ago, but canceled a 2022 visit amid a wave of Palestinian terror attacks.
Notably, the pontiff met with the families of Israelis being held captive by Hamas in the Gaza Strip late last year.
On Wednesday, Cohen hailed as “important” his visit to Serbia, saying it had opened a “new page” in Israel’s relations with the European country.
Cohen met with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic and the Speaker of Parliament Vladimir Orlic.
“We agreed that after years of stagnation in relations between the countries, we will work to expand cooperation between Israel and Serbia,” said Cohen in referring to the dispute over Israel’s 2020 establishment of diplomatic relations with Kosovo.
“This will contribute to the interests of both nations, and will strengthen Israel’s position in the Balkans,” he added.
Cohen’s visit to Belgrade marked the first time Israel’s most senior diplomat traveled to the Serbian capital since 2009.