President Vladimir Putin is making arrangements for an upcoming state visit to Italy. The Russian leader said this as meeting Silvio Berlusconi, President of the Italian Council of Ministers, in the Kremlin Tuesday.
Mr. Berlusconi was hopeful the Kremlin meeting would help arrange the Italian visit, due on November 5-6.
President Putin's state visit will take place shortly after a Russia-EU summit, recalled the Italian premier. The summit will take place in Italy, which is holding the rotating chairmanship in the European Union.
The Russian leader expressed hope for further progress of cooperation between Russia and the EU.
Russia is closely following all developments in the EU, said Vladimir Putin.
"We see the temperature rise in the European agencies, the European Parliament included, but very much hope that all the internal political differences, which are only natural for a democratic society, will not hinder the development of relations in a constructive way," said President Putin.
"Russia and united Europe will then make a stride in developing their relations," he added.
Russia is interested in cooperation with the EU, since the Union, particularly when it enlarges to admit the Baltic and some other republics, will account for over 50% of Russia's foreign trade, recalled the president.
The EU stands to gain from economic contacts with Russia as well, believes President Putin. Russia is Europe's major energy partner. Energy contacts with Russia will get increasingly more important for Europe in the next decades, according to the Russian president.
"We all stand to gain from developing relations," said Vladimir Putin.
"And it goes without saying that Russia-EU contacts in the area of global and European security are absolutely vital," the President added.