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Russia: Italian Premier In Moscow

Moscow, 3 April 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is continuing his visit to Russia today with formal talks in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Those talks are expected to include senior ministers from both sides and focus on trade relations, fighting terrorism, and Russia's bid to join the World Trade Organization, which Italy supports.

Berlusconi is also due to meet Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and take part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

ITAR-TASS quoted Vasilii Toluchko, a spokesman for the War Memorial Association, as saying Russia also will formally notify Italy of its intention to turn over the remains of 500 Italian servicemen who died on Soviet territory during World War II.

Berlusconi and Putin held informal discussions in the Black Sea resort of Sochi yesterday. Russia's RIA-Novosti news service quoted Berlusconi as saying that Europe should "open its doors" to Russia, allowing it to become a fully equal partner.

Putin responded by calling Italy a "priveleged partner" for Russia, saying that the two countries have extensive opportunities for cooperation in trade, space exploration, and other spheres.