A meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is taking place in the Kremlin. According to a RIA Novosti correspondent, Putin said opening the meeting that Russia viewed the visit by the Italian Premier as a "working one, caused by a real need", in particular, "by the complicated international situation". Putin stressed that Berlusconi's current visit to Moscow is not a substitute for next year's visit to Russia. Berlusconi said, on his part, that the participants in today's talks would focus, in particular, on combating terrorism. Putin pointed out that Russia had a great interest in developing relations with Italy. "Italy is one of our major partners," he said, stressing that the two countries' turnover had amounted to about $10 billion. Putin also noted that Russia highly appreciated "Berlusconi's personal efforts for developing the bilateral ties". Putin also emphasized that Russia "had not forgotten that it was, in fact, Berlusconi who signed the Russian-Italian basic Treaty of Friendship in 1994." The Italian Prime Minister thanked the Russian President "for the warm words" and expressed absolute accord with what he had said. He also reaffirmed the Russian-Italian friendly relationship. Berlusconi said that Italians saw "considerable progress" in Russia's democratisation and economic development under Vladimir Putin."
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