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    Medvedev to discuss economy with Berlusconi, meet with Pope

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    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will discuss bilateral economic cooperation with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi during his visit to Italy on December 3 and meet with Pope Benedict XVI in the Vatican, a Kremlin aide said on Wednesday.

    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will discuss bilateral economic cooperation with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi during his visit to Italy on December 3 and meet with Pope Benedict XVI in the Vatican, a Kremlin aide said on Wednesday.

    Medvedev will visit the Italian capital for the sixth round of broad intergovernmental consultations at the highest level, Sergei Prikhodko said, adding the Russian delegation will include a team of ministers and other top officials.

    Economic cooperation will become the main focus of the bilateral talks, Prikhodko said.

    "Much attention during the talks between President Medvedev and [Premier] Berlusconi will be paid on bilateral cooperation in the economic sphere," he said.

    Prikhodko said "Italy is one of Russia's key trade and economic partners in Europe," adding the trade turnover between the two countries has reached $52.8 billion in 2008.

    More than a dozen agreements are expected to be signed during Medvedev's stay in the Italian capital, the Kremlin aide said.

    He said Russia's energy giant Gazprom and Italy's energy company Eni could sign a memorandum on cooperation in the South Stream natural gas pipeline construction during the talks.

    Russian companies are expected to discuss with the Italian concern Finmeccanica projects involving Superjet 100, cellular communications, transportation projects and the modernization of Russian railroads, Prikhodko said.

    A joint venture of the Russian State Technology Corporation and Italy's Fiat automakers to assemble agricultural and construction equipment at the production site of Russian truck maker Kamaz in the republic of Tatarstan is also included in the agenda.

    After the consultations in Rome, Dmitry Medvedev will pay a short visit to the Vatican in order to meet with Pope Benedict XVI and the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. The agenda of the talks is expected to focus on humanitarian cooperation, Prikhodko said, adding Medvedev will meet with the Pope for the first time.

    MOSCOW, December 2 (RIA Novosti)

     

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