Putin to Visit With Berlusconi

President Vladimir Putin on Thursday will become the first foreign leader to meet with Italian Prime Minister-elect Silvio Berlusconi since his parliamentary election victory, the Kremlin and Berlusconi's press office said Tuesday.

The meeting is expected to take place in Berlusconi's luxury villa on the island of Sardinia, where Berlusconi has previously hosted Putin, an old ally and friend, and his family.

"Berlusconi has just won the election and it would be more a convivial [meeting] than a working one," Valentino Valentini, an adviser to Berlusconi, said by telephone from Rome on Tuesday.

"This is the last visit that President Putin does as a president. They are two future prime ministers meeting each other," Valentini said, adding: "There is no specific agenda. This is a brief visit to prepare the ground for future [relations]."

The Kremlin confirmed in a statement that the two leaders would "discuss Russian-Italian relations and their further development."

Putin will visit Sardinia on Thursday and Friday on his way back from Libya, where he is expected to hold talks with the country's leader, Moammar Gadhafi, on gas, debt and arms deals.

Earlier this month, Putin met with Eni chief executive Paolo Scaroni and Gazprom head Alexei Miller in Moscow to discuss potential cooperation between the two energy giants, including a possible asset swap involving projects in Libya, Gazprom announced following the meeting. In return Eni would likely be given assets in Russia.

Eni said last week that it was discussing possible cooperation on upstream projects with Gazprom. A spokeswoman for Eni refused to comment further Monday.

Putin and Berlusconi are unlikely to discuss Russian flag carrier Aeroflot's previous interest in troubled Italian airline Alitalia, however.

In a last-ditch bid to save Alitalia, the Italian government put it up for sale last year. Aeroflot made a joint bid with Italian bank UniCredit, but pulled out three months later.