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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Berlusconi Eyes Terror and Energy

ReutersItalian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi inspecting an honor guard after arriving at Vnukovo Airport on Tuesday afternoon.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and three of his ministers arrived Tuesday for a two-day visit that will include talks with President Vladimir Putin on energy cooperation, security issues and Russia-European Union relations.

"The talks will deal with a wide range of bilateral relationships, including the Russia-EU dialogue with an emphasis on the formation of common spaces, the situation in the Middle East and in Iraq, and also security issues and the ways to ensure strategic stability," Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko said, Interfax reported.

The two leaders were also expected to discuss international terrorism, the U.S. presidential election and Italy's bid to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

Italian news reports said Berlusconi might also discuss with Putin the role that Italian oil and gas giant Eni SpA could play in the restructuring of Russia's energy sector.

Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, meanwhile, reported Tuesday that the Italian government has set aside 720 million euros ($915 million) to help Russia dismantle nuclear submarines and destroy stocks of chemical weapons. The provision has been included in the Italian government's budget plan for 2005 and allows for the appointment of a commissioner to deal with the issue, Corriere said, noting that it follows a November agreement between Russian and Italian foreign ministers. Berlusconi will be discussing the plan during his visit to Moscow, Corriere reported.

Berlusconi arrived at Vnukovo Airport at 5 p.m. accompanied by Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, Industry Minister Antonio Marzano and Culture Minister Giuliano Urbani.

He was to have an informal dinner with Putin at the president's Novo Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow on Tuesday evening.

On Wednesday, he is to lay flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier outside the Kremlin before meeting again with Putin at noon. In the afternoon, Putin and Berlusconi are to present awards to Italian director Franco Zeffirelli and to Pushkin Museum director Irina Antonova.

(AP, MT)