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Italy’s new interior minister hopes to meet with Russian counterpart this summer

June 08, 2018, 7:33 UTC+3 ROME

Salvini said that although Russia was an important partner, the Libyan issue was on top of his agenda at the moment

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ROME, June 8. /TASS/. Italy’s newly appointed Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said he hoped to meet with his Russian counterpart in the coming months.

The minister told reporters during the Day of Russia celebrations at the Russian ambassador’s residence in Rome that he expected "to meet with the Russian counterpart by the end of the summer."

"I hope that [the meeting would take place] soon, but Libya is number one on my agenda, because this situation causes concern. Russia is not a threat for Italy, but there is another kind of aggression. That’s why I’m dealing with Mediterranean issues, and I know that Russian friends have already cooperated [in this region] and are ready for further cooperation," he said.

"I need 15 days to organize my team," Salvini added.

Speaking about the possibility of Italy vetoing the further extension of EU sanctions during the EU Council meeting due in late June, Salvini said "the situation in the EU is changing."

"We are working in a team, let us begin," he said.

Salvini heads the League party, which formed the coalition government jointly with the Five Star movement. Their joint program has a provision on the cancellation of anti-Russian sanctions. Prime Minister Jiuseppe Conte also said on Tuesday that Italy’s new government will be coming out against the anti-Russian sanctions

Following the reunification of Crimea with Russia after a coup in Ukraine, Moscow came under sanctions from the United States and many European countries. The restrictive measures were soon ramped up following Western and Ukrainian claims that Russia was supporting the militias in self-proclaimed republics of Ukraine’s southeast and was involved in the destabilization of Ukraine.

Talks on visa-free trips and on a new cooperation agreement were suspended. Travel bans were imposed on Russian officials and their assets were frozen, restrictions were also imposed in trade, financial and military sectors. All in all, 151 people and 37 legal entities were put on the sanctions list. Sectoral sanctions are in place against 20 Russian financial, oil producing and defense entities.

The European Union has repeatedly extended sanctions ever since.

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