Russian president wishes Italy's Prodi success

Russian President Vladimir Putin wished Italian center-left leader Romano Prodi success Saturday during a telephone conversation, the government said.

Putin also "expressed satisfaction in connection with the completion of the lengthy election period in Italy," the Kremlin said.

An Italian appeals court confirmed Prodi's two-seat majority in the Senate on Saturday, giving him the final certification he needed to win Italy's elections.

A Kremlin statement said Putin "wished Prodi every success," but did not say that he offered congratulations.

Premier Silvio Berlusconi has been one of Putin's most valued European partners. The two cultivated close personal ties: Putin's daughters have vacationed with Berlusconi's family at their Sardinian villa, where Putin and the Italian leader addressed reporters in high spirits during one of their many friendly meetings.

Putin and Prodi, meanwhile, "noted the existence of broad opportunities for the development of Russian-Italian cooperation in various fields" and discussed near-term plans for interaction, the Kremlin said.

Prodi's office had said Thursday that Putin and another Berlusconi ally, U.S. President George W. Bush, had not yet called Prodi. By then, leaders of nations including Britain, France, Germany and Israel had called Prodi to congratulate him, reports AP.

O.Ch.