Italian PM Paolo Gentiloni sent a message to other EU leaders
Following talks with Theresa May in 10 Downing Street, the Italian leader sent a message he will push back against efforts to punish Britain for quitting the EU.
Speaking at a press conference alongside the Prime Minister, Mr Gentiloni said: "We have obviously taken into account what is necessary after the decision of the UK citizens of leaving the EU.
"A decision that we respect fully and we are aware of the fact negotiations will not be easy and we also know, and this will certainly be the Italian attitude, that we need to show a constructive and friendly approach.
"There is absolutely no point in having a destructive negotiation between the EU and the UK.
"So obviously we will do this in the hope of fostering the unity of the 27 countries because without the unity of the 27 countries it will be difficult to come to some agreement.
"We must ensure this unity will result in the best possible agreement with the UK."
Mr Gentiloni replaced Matteo Renzi as prime minister last year, following his predecessor's resignation in the wake of defeat in Italy's recent referendum on constitutional reforms.
Mr Gentiloni told Mrs May the UK and Italy shared a "very specific interest" in "reassuring" Italians already living in the UK and British nationals in Italy over their continued rights.
He expressed a wish to confirm "their acquired rights will be respected and there will be reciprocity" between the EU and Britain, adding foreign nationals should be shown "very fair treatment" after Brexit.
The Prime Minister is believed to have had her efforts to secure an agreement on a reciprocal guarantees for EU nationals in the UK and British expats on the continent blocked by German chancellor Angela Merkel.
Theresa May hosted the Italian PM in 10 Downing Street
There is absolutely no point in having a destructive negotiation between the EU and the UK.
Get Quotes on Home Insurance
Mr Gentiloni claimed the remaining 27 EU member states would look to "relaunch" the bloc at an informal summit in Rome to mark the 60th anniversary of the EU's founding treaties.
But the Italian prime minister admitted the Brexit vote meant the bloc would need to "look at the mission of the EU in the next 10 years in detail" and suggested there could be "different levels of integration" between member states in the future.
A surge in eurosceptic sentiment has seen the rise in popularity of Beppe Grillo's Five Star Movement in Italian politics.
Speaking before Mr Gentiloni, Mrs May had said: "Just as I chose to visit Italy shortly after coming into office, Prime Minister Gentiloni has made the UK one of his first trips.
"I think that underlines the importance that we both place on the long-standing relationship between our two countries.
"As I have said before, Britain is leaving the European Union – but we are not leaving Europe.
"A Global Britain that stands tall in the world, will be a Britain that remains a good friend and ally to Italy and to all our European partners."
The Prime Minister hailed last night's overwhelming vote by MPs in favour of Article 50 as a "step closer" to her fulfilling her commitment to triggering the legal mechanism for quitting the EU by the end of next month.
She added: "As I have said, the priority for the UK in the negotiations ahead will be to seek a new, comprehensive, bold and ambitious Free Trade Agreement with the EU."