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    Russia's Ivanov arrives in Italy for informal NATO meeting

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    TAORMINA (Sicily), February 9 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's defense minister has arrived in Italy to attend an informal meeting of NATO defense ministers, the ministry said Thursday.

    Sergei Ivanov's visit, which will last until February 12, will include bilateral meetings with NATO military and political officials, including Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, and Italian Defense Minister Antonio Martino, the ministry's press service said.

    Ivanov, who is also deputy prime minister, is expected to address a ceremony devoted to Russian sailors who aided residents of Messina in northeastern Italy in 1908 when they were struck by an earthquake. The minister will also speak at a workshop on the roles of Italy and Russia in the new international security environment.

    Russian Black Sea Fleet ships, which left for Messina February 5, will arrive at the port city to participate in preparations for NATO's Operation Active Endeavor.

    In addition to Ivanov, NATO officials and defense ministers from the alliance's member states will visit the Russian ships.

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