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President Putin on State Visit, Discusses Russia’s Relations to Italy, U.S. with Corriere della Sera

July 4, 2019 (EIRNS)—Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Rome today and met President Sergio Mattarella, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Pope Francis, and his friend Silvio Berlusconi.

His meeting with Prime Minister Conte took place this afternoon and was followed by a press conference.

Putin gave an interview to Corriere della Sera, published today. In the text, posted on the President’s website, he says that the breakdown of the system of international security began when George W. Bush withdrew the U.S. from the ABM Treaty. The U.S. refuses to negotiate on the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, and just yesterday, Putin signed legislation for Russia to suspend the treaty. The START Treaty will expire in 2021, but the U.S. is apparently not ready to discuss its extension or replacement.

But then he continues:

“Recently, the administration in Washington has begun to reflect on the possibility of restarting our bilateral dialogue on a broad strategic agenda. I believe that reaching concrete agreements in the field of ensuring arms control would help improve international stability. Russia has political will to do this; now it is for the U.S. to make a decision. I reiterated this position at our meeting with President Trump on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Japan not long ago.”

He further responded to another question, saying:

“To overcome the current unhealthy situation, we have to abandon the archaic concepts of ‘deterrence’ and ‘bloc philosophy’ from the Cold War era.

“The security system should be common and indivisible. Such architecture should be based on the fundamental principles of inter-state relations enshrined in the UN Charter and the Helsinki Final Act, including the non-use of force or the threat of force, non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states, and peaceful political settlement of disputes.”

Putin was asked about his relations with Deputy Prime Minister, Lega head Matteo Salvini and with former Prime Minister Berlusconi. He answered that relations with Salvini are on the level of party to party, but he praised the fact that

“Matteo Salvini has warm feelings for Russia, and he is well familiar with its realities. We met in 2014 in Milan, where we discussed prospects for development of Russian-Italian ties, as well as Russia’s relations with the European Union.”

However, “in our relations with foreign states we have regard for lawfully elected, legitimate leaders.”

On Berlusconi, with whom he met privately, he said that “Silvio is a politician of international standing, a true leader who strenuously defended the interests of his country in the international arena. ... We rarely meet, but when we have such an opportunity, he never lets himself discuss domestic issues. Neither do I.

“It is important that in Italy there is an absolute consensus among all political forces on the need to develop good relations with Russia. And we fully reciprocate it.”

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