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    Putin's Italy trip yields communique, economic deals

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    Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to southern Italy and interstate consultations produced a joint communique, and a series of bilateral agreements in energy, transportation and banking.

    BARI (Italy), March 14 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to southern Italy and interstate consultations produced a joint communique, and a series of bilateral agreements in energy, transportation and banking.

    In their joint communique, Putin and Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi said they were satisfied with bilateral relations in all areas, including trade, energy and high technologies, and expressed a commitment to giving further impulse to interaction.

    "The president and the chairman of the Council of Ministers stressed the importance in the results of bilateral cooperation, particularly in the past year," said the document, which crowned Putin's two-day trip to the European Union nation.

    The joint communique also enumerated crucial economic agreements signed during the visit.

    Energy

    One of the crucial energy deals was a memorandum of intentions between Italy's ENEL power supplier and Russia's Federal Agency for Nuclear Power to develop the energy sector and generate nuclear power, and also an agreement on alternative energy generation.

    ENEL and Russian utility company ESN already manage Russia's North-West thermal power plant. ENEL has also said it wanted to be involved in the privatization of Russia's electric power sector.

    Energy cooperation between Russia and Italy saw a serious breakthrough last November when Russian energy giant, Gazprom [RTS: GAZP], and Italy's ENI, Europe's fourth largest oil company, signed a strategic partnership agreement. The deal granted the Russian company access to Italy's oil and gas market and allowed ENI to join the development of Russian mineral deposits.

    ENI is also a member of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium, which includes such Russian, Kazakh and global companies as Chevron, LUKoil, ExxonMobil, BP, Rosneft, Shell, BG and Gazmunaigaz. The pipeline pumps oil from western Kazakhstan to the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiisk.

    Transportation

    The Russian Railways monopoly and Italy's electronics-making company Finmeccanica signed a cooperation deal to use satellite technologies on railway transport, manage security in trains, and build a high-speed electric train for the Russian giant.

    "It is important that the agreement with Finmeccanica is very specific and will make it possible to put into service the most advanced systems and technologies for railway transport in Russia," the Russian Railways president, Vladimir Yakunin, said.

    Finmeccanica will be involved in another transportation project in Russia. Its subsidiary, Alenia Aeronautica, signed a cooperation protocol with Russia's Sukhoi fighter jet maker on the production of Superjet-100. The new aircraft is designed to replace Russia's ageing Tu-154 and Tu-134 models, and will enter service after 2012.

    Banking

    Banking is another promising area of economic cooperation between Russia and Italy.

    Putin's visit yielded a 122-million-euro credit agreement between Russia's Vnesheconombank (VEB) and Italy's leading investment bank Mediobank to finance a logistics terminal project, Ramenskoye, near Moscow.

    The terminal is expected to become a hub for industrial cargo transportation in European Russia, the Urals, Siberia, and the Central Asian republic of Kazakhstan. Ramenskoye will also have Russia's first flower exchange similar to the flower auction in the Netherlands.

    Another state-run Russian bank, the Vneshtorgbank [RTS: VTBR] foreign trade bank, signed a 200-million-euro credit agreement with Mediobank for five years. It also secured a 100-million-euro credit deal with Italy's second leading bank Intesa Sanpaolo SpA for 11 years to finance Italian imports of household equipment and durable goods to Russia.

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