SIMFEROPOL, September 11. /TASS/. Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi arrived on a private visit to Crimea on Friday to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists on Wednesday that Putin could meet with Berlusconi soon to discuss bilateral and international issues.
"We do not rule out the possibility that a personal meeting between Berlusconi and Russian President Vladimir Putin may take place one of these days," Peskov said.
Peskov recalled that Berlusconi and the Russian leader maintained long-term business and friendly relationships. Their talks could focus not only on bilateral issues of Russian-Italian ties but also on developments in the international arena, the spokesman said, noting also that Putin and Berlusconi could exchange views on most "pressing regional problems".
"Any contacts with politicians and government officials having such rank as Berlusconi - no matter whether they are incumbent politicians or non-incumbent ones - are certainly a matter of diplomacy," Peskov said, adding that these were important contacts and the Russian president "attaches great significance to them".
According to TASS information, Berlusconi spent two previous days in Sochi and the Crimean trip was his initiative.
Crimean parliament speaker Vladimir Konstantinov said Berlusconi will get a hearty welcome in Crimea.
"We respect the Italian politician for his stance in regard to Russia," Konstantinov told TASS. "We will give him a warm welcome."
A source at the Crimean government told TASS earlier that Berlusconi would pay a private visit to Yalta, a resort city in Crimea’s south.
"A sightseeing tour of Yalta and several meetings are on his schedule," the source said.
The source said the ex-official has visited an Italian cemetery in the Crimean city of Sevastopol, the home to the Russian Black Sea Fleet.
According to the source, he may meet with Crimean head Sergey Aksyonov.
Aksyonov has urgently departed for Sevastopol from Simferopol, the peninsula’s capital.
However, he neither denied nor confirmed Berlusconi’s visit.
"I’ll tell you everything later," he told reporters.