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European security to be focus of Russian-Italian talks

RIA Novosti

05/11/2008 17:57 MOSCOW, November 5 (RIA Novosti) - Urgent global issues, including the development of a new European security system, will top the agenda of intergovernmental talks between Russia and Italy in Moscow on Thursday, a Kremlin source has said.

The fifth round of the talks will be presided over by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

"The talks will focus on building a new European collective security system, ensuring security and stability in the Caucasus, on relations between Russia, the EU and NATO, the need to create a new financial structure considering the global financial crisis, as well as the agenda of Italy's presidency in the Group of Eight in 2009," the source said.

Medvedev first proposed developing a new European security treaty long before the recent war between Russia and Georgia, and the issue became more urgent after Tbilisi attacked breakaway South Ossetia on August 7.

The Italian premier was one of the few Western leaders to support Russia during the ensuing conflict.

Russia and the EU have agreed to continue informal consultations on a new security agreement, in which Medvedev wants to involve not only the EU, but also the U.S., Canada, NATO, the Commonwealth of Independent States alliance of former Soviet republics and the Collective Security Treaty Organization.

The Kremlin source also said a substantial package of documents, including in the nuclear sector, were expected to be signed during the talks.

Russian and Italian ministers will report on planned joint steps towards coordinating the countries' foreign policies, expanding cooperation in economic, humanitarian, cultural, scientific sectors and in the fight against terrorism and crime.

Bilateral trade between the countries totaled $36 billion last year, and reached $35.7 billion over the first eight months of 2008, a 65.4% year-on-year growth.

Italy invested more than $10 billion in the Russian economy last year.

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