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Italy junior minister sees possible Chinese help to rescue Alitalia

FILE PHOTO: Passengers board an Alitalia airplane at the Cagliari airport, Italy, July 9, 2018. Picture taken July 9, 2018. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

ROME (Reuters) - An Italian junior minister with strong ties with China said on Thursday a Chinese airline could be involved in the rescue of ailing Italian carrier Alitalia.

“I don’t rule out that China could be involved,” Junior Industry Minister Michele Geraci said in a television interview with Sky Italia, when asked about possible help for Alitalia less than two weeks before a deadline to save it.

Geraci spoke as Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Rome for a three-day visit during which he will sign an accord drawing Italy into his giant “Belt and Road” infrastructure plan. Geraci, who lived in China for a decade, helped to prepare the deal.

The CEO of Delta Air Lines has flown to China to discuss with China Eastern the possibility the Chinese carrier could take part in Alitalia’s rescue, Italian daily La Stampa reported on Thursday.

Reporting By Gavin Jones