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18 Apr, 2008 00:44

Putin in Italy on last Presidential trip abroad

Energy deals, joint work on a new-generation super jet and relations between Moscow and Europe will dominate Friday’s meeting between President Putin and Italian Premier-elect Silvio Berlusconi. Putin is on his last official foreign visit as head of state

On Friday, the two men reached several agreements in the areas of trade and energy during informal talks.

Putin is expected to be Russia’s new prime minister so experts argue this meeting might be setting a framework for their further contacts.

Italy remains an important partner for Russia. Trade turnover between the countries has reached $US 36 billion. Companies from both sides say they are willing to mutually expand their presence in Italy and Russia respectively.

Not so long ago Russian energy giant Gazprom and Italian oil and gas company Eni signed a deal to build a pipeline linking Russia and Europe via the Black Sea.

Other important projects include the development of the Sukhoi superjet, joint projects in electricity and power areas.

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.

Earlier on his last trip abroad as President, the Russian leader met the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in Tripoli, where a number of major political and commercial agreements were signed.

Russia is writing off Libya's $4.5 billion dollar debt in exchange for multi-billion dollar contracts to re-build the country’s infrastructure and boost its oil and gas industries.