Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was welcomed Monday by Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta to Rome's Villa Madama, where the two leaders will hold the 18th bilateral summit.

The heavy rains at Rome's airport forced officials to suspend the planned welcome with a military honor guard for Rajoy.

The Spanish prime minister's summit delegation includes Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez, Defense Minister Pedro Morenes, Development Minister Ana Pastor, Industry Minister Jose Manuel Soria, Employment Minister Fatima Bañez and Health Minister Ana Mato.

The Spanish ministers will meet with their Italian counterparts at Villa Madama and at the Italian Foreign Ministry.

All of the ministers will be present for the joint press conference that Rajoy and Letta will hold at the end of the summit.

The two leaders plan to discuss the economic outlook for their countries, the economic situation in the European Union and dispute over completion of the Panama Canal expansion project.

The Panama Canal dispute is part of the summit agenda because Italian and Spanish contractors are working on the project, and the dispute affects the countries' international image, Spanish officials told Efe.

Spain's Sacyr and Italy's Impregilo are the lead members of the international consortium formed to carry out the Panama Canal expansion project.

The consortium wants the Panama Canal Authority to pay an additional $1.2 billion due to cost overruns on the project.

Rajoy and Letta also plan to discuss youth unemployment, European measures to fight illegal immigration and international issues, such as the situation in Syria.

The leaders are slated to sign a convention covering Spain's participation at the 2015 World's Fair in Milan. EFE