Vladimir Putin to pay working visit to Italy

President Vladimir Putin is to fly today to Italy on a three-day working visit. RIA Novosti was informed at the press service of the Russian president that the main aim of the visit is to expand collaboration with Italy, including in the context of the Italian presidency in the European Union since July 1. The president's entourage stress that Italy is one of Russia's leading European partners and that the political dialogue between Moscow and Rome became substantive and multidimensional in recent years.

The forthcoming meeting between the Russian president and chairman of Italy's council of minister Silvio Berlusconi is the fifth one this year. It will be held on the island of Sardinia. According to the Kremlin sources, the leaders of the two countries will exchange opinions on the most important bilateral and international issues. New guidelines of the Russian-Italian relations will be mapped out, and specific goals of bilateral cooperation in various fields set. The present Putin's visit will be a kind of "rehearsal" of his state visit to Italy scheduled for November.

The sources report that taking into account the Italian presidency in the European Union it is planned to touch upon questions of the Russian-Italian interaction in the further development of cooperation between Russia and the European Union, including in the light of the forthcoming regular Russia-EU summit scheduled for November 2003 in Rome.

The Kremlin sources told RIA Novosti that Vladimir Putin and Silvio Berlusconi will pay special attention to various aspects of bilateral cultural and humanitarian cooperation.

In particular, according to these sources, one of the most important trends in the Russian-Italian ties has become, in recent years, the expansion of exchanges between young people of the two countries, and cooperation in the field of education. The main directions of humanitarian cooperation will be written down in the Joint Statement to be adopted on the results of the summit, RIA Novosti was told in the Kremlin.

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