President of Russia Vlaidmir Putin said Monday that Russia would support Germany's permanent membership of the U.N. Security Council if the world body agrees to reforms the council's structure.
Speaking after a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Putin said: "We consider that Germany, certainly, has the right to claim such a place," the news agency RIA-Novosti reported.
"We will support the candidacy of Germany, but only in the event that such a reform is proposed and that a majority of the United Nations supports it," he was quoted as saying.
Germany, along with Japan, Brazil and India, has been pushing to expand the Security Council with six added seats that would be permanent but would not have veto power as do the original five permanent members - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.
Italy has supported a different proposal, to allow the Security Council to be expanded with 10 more non-permanent seats, and its ambassador to the world body last month accused Germany, Brazil, India and Japan of using aid money to try to buy seats on the council.
Putin, asked if Berlusconi was offended by Russia's support for Germany, said: "We're not girls. We speak up," according to the AP.