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Putin Praises Growing Trade With Italy --> President Putin (file photo) 29 August 2005 -- Russian President Vladimir Putin highlighted his country's growing economic ties with Italy during talks today with visiting Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

"Our trade and economic relations are developing positively. In the first six months of this year we increased our trade and economic ties [with Italy] by 55 percent, compared with the same period last year. This makes a record in Russia's relations with developed industrial countries."

The two leaders met at Putin's government dacha near the Black Sea resort of Sochi. The Italian prime minister arrived in Russia yesterday on a three-day working visit.

The two countries are discussing cooperation in the telecommunications and aerospace sectors.