ROME, May 11 (Xinhua) -- Inclusive growth will be on top of the agenda of finance ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) members, who gathered on Thursday in the southern city of Bari for a three-day meeting.
Italian Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met behind closed doors in the afternoon, while an official ceremony to welcome the other participants was scheduled at the Petruzzelli theatre in the evening.
In the bilateral talks, Padoan assured his U.S. counterpart the stock of non-performing loans (NPLs) burdening Italy's banking system would return to more "physiological levels" in short time, Ansa news agency quoted sources from the Italian G7 presidency as saying.
Italy's bad loans, a pressing issue encompassing the country's stability within the euro-zone, amounted to about 170 billion euros (184.7 billion U.S. dollars) net, senior deputy governor of Bank of Italy Salvatore Rossi said in April.
The G7 meeting would run from May 11 to May 13 amid tight security measures. Some 1,500 police officers and 600 surveillance cameras were deployed within and around Bari, according to authorities.
Besides the finance ministers, central bank governors from the world's seven most developed economies will engage in the talks in Bari.
Participants would also include top officials from the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the Eurogroup.
Italy, which has assumed the rotating presidency of the G7 this year, pressed to make "inclusive growth" the key issue of Bari's meeting. Yet, discussions would also focus on international tax rules, remittances and cyber security, anti-terrorism financing, and international financial institutions' coordination.
Trade was not part of the G7 finance meeting official agenda, for fear discussions on the topic may lead to a confrontation among ministers over protectionism, local media reported.
However, the issue will be discussed at the major G7 summit due in Taormina, Sicily, on May 26-27, according to the Italian government.