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IPFS News Link • Russia

Russian, Italy vow to expand ties despite EU sanctions

•, Vladimir Isachenkov

They also agreed to pool efforts to help settle the political crisis in Libya.

Making his first trip to Russia since taking office in June, Conte hailed the country as an essential global player and invited Putin to visit Italy in the near future. He said he hoped Moscow would participate in a conference on Libya taking place next month.

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The Italian premier said the split between the European Union and Russia over the Ukrainian crisis had lasted too long, adding that Italy hopes to convince its EU partners about the need for dialogue.

"For Italy, the sanctions aren't the goal, they are an instrument that would be better left behind," said Conte, who was a law professor before he became the consensus prime minister pick of the populist coalition now governing Italy.

Following hours of talks between Putin and Conte in the Kremlin, public officials and business leaders from the two countries signed a slew of trade and investment agreements intended to bolster bilateral ties badly damaged by EU sanctions against Russia and by Moscow's retaliatory moves.