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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Italy, Russia Sign Accord

President Boris Yeltsin and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi signed a treaty in the Kremlin on Friday aimed at strengthening trade ties and improving coordination in the battle against gangsters.

Rome hopes the friendship and cooperation pact will correct a trade relationship now weighted heavily toward Russia because of its energy exports to Italy.

The treaty covers political and economic aspects of bilateral ties, stressing the importance of Italian assistance to Russia's defense conversion efforts.

The two nations also agreed to cooperate in fighting organized crime and illegal drug trafficking.

Italy is one of Russia's largest trading partners and creditors, with about $12 billion in debts outstanding.