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Russian, Italian top diplomats to discuss economic ties, Russia-EU relations

March 27, 4:22 UTC+3 MOSCOW

During the talks Sergey Lavrov and Angelino Alfano will plan to discuss the current state and prospects for Russian-Italian relations in politics, economy, science and technology

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MOSCOW, March 27. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will hold talks with his Italian counterpart, Angelino Alfano, on Monday. Their meeting in Moscow will be the second one since Alfano was appointed to the position in December 2016. Lavrov and Alfano first held talks on the sidelines of the G20 group ministerial meeting in Bonn in February.

"The Russian Foreign Ministry attaches great importance to developing dialogue and maintaining a high level of cooperation with Italy, one of Russia’s major political and economic partners in Western Europe," the ministry said.

Agenda

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, during the talks it is planned to discuss the current state and prospects for Russian-Italian relations in politics, economy, science and technology.

"The two ministers will also discuss key international issues, including the situation in Syria, Libya, and Ukraine, efforts to counter international terrorism, cooperation with Italy in the UN Security Council and relations between Russia and the EU," Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, told reporters.

She noted that special attention will be paid to intensifying cooperation between the two countries in culture, education and ties between the civil societies.

Mutually beneficial cooperation

Moscow and Rome are trying to give an additional impetus to the mutually advantageous economic partnership, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

"The Italian leadership has shown interest in maintaining the vast potential of bilateral cooperation and continuing regular contacts, including top-level," the ministry noted.

While in Moscow, Alfano who is co-chairman of the Russian-Italian Council for Economic, Industrial and Monetary Cooperation (Economic Council) will also meet with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich.

"It is planned to discuss progress in the implementation of the decisions made at the XIV session of the Economic Council in Rome on October 5, 2016, including measures to overcome negative trends in trade between the two countries," the Russian Foreign Ministry reported.

The ministry noted that the trade turnover between Russia and Italy decreased by 35.4% in 2016 compared to 2015.

Overcoming sanctions standoff

The Russian Foreign Ministry pointed to the Italian leadership’s desire to adhere to a balanced and pragmatic approach to relations with Russia, in spite of "restrictions in connection with that country’s membership in the EU and NATO."

"Positive perception of Russia dominates in Italy’s political, business and public circles. There is strong sentiment in favor of early restoration of mutually beneficial ties with our country, breaking the impasse of the sanctions standoff," the ministry added.

Alfano told reporters on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bonn that anti-Russian sanctions cannot last forever. He noted that only "irrational people can insist on preserving chill in relations between the US and Russia and Russia and the EU."

A month later, speaking at the Atlantic Council in Washington on March 21, Italy’s top diplomat said he is in favor of solving problems in relations between Russia and the West. "We need to get rid of sanctions, and to do that we need to implement the Minsk agreements (on Ukraine)," he said. "It is necessary to exert every effort to do that."

Time to solve problems

On May 26-27, the Italian city of Taormina will host the G7 summit (the UK, Germany, Italy, Canada, the US, France and Japan). Russia discontinued its participation in the meetings that bring together the leaders of the world’s leading powers due to tensions in relations with the West over the Ukrainian crisis and Crimea’s reunification with Russia.

During his speech at the Atlantic Council, Alfano expressed the hope that the upcoming meeting in Italy will be "the last G7 summit" followed by the revival of the G8 format.

"I will tell our counterparts in Moscow that it is time for us to solve problems," the Italian foreign minister said, commenting on the purpose of his visit to Russia. "It is good for the world to have warm relations with Russia.".

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