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17 Apr, 2008 17:03

Friends reunited as Putin and Berlusconi meet

Vladimir Putin has met with his old European ally, Italy’s Premier-elect Silvio Berlusconi, in Sardinia. The visit is Putin’s final foreign trip as Russian President before he steps down next month.

Speaking about Putin’s visit, Berlusconi said the Russian leader “has shown himself to be a great friend to come here.”

He said the move “shows a close relationship that has never been interrupted.”

“The Russian federation is very important for us. We get 30 per cent of our petrol and gas from them and there are a lot of opportunities for our companies, like Enel and Eni, and other organisations to work with them,” the Italian Premier-elect said.

During his second term as Prime Minister in 2001-2006, the Italian billionaire met Vladimir Putin on several occasions.

The two men enjoy a close friendship and Putin will be congratulating his ally on his victory in the recent Italian election.

Bilateral relations between Russia and Italy will also be discussed during the visit, including energy and the possible sale of struggling Italian airline Alitalia.

Earlier, the Russian leader met the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in Tripoli, where a number of major political and commercial agreements were signed.