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MOSCOW, March 5. /TASS/. Italy is Russia's key partner despite current problems in relations with the European Union, President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday.
"Italy is, undoubtedly, one of our privileged partners in Europe and the world," Putin said at the meeting with visiting Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
Putin praised bilateral trade and economic ties, admitting "losses in view of certain events."
He said Italy is Russia's fourth largest trade partner.
Putin added the two countries were successfully cooperating in the energy, nuclear, engineering, space, and other spheres.
Renzi who had already held talks with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said he wanted to discuss with Putin "Russia-EU relations amid the Ukrainian crisis and the situation in the Mediterranean," mainly the conflict in Libya.