ROME — Vladimir Putin called for the strengthening of ties between Moscow and the EU during an official visit to Italy on Thursday — and called on the prospective new European Commission chief to help make that happen.
The Russian president said his country was being asked to make an extra effort to solve the conflict in Ukraine but "we can't be handed the full responsibility [ Von der Leyen , in her role as German defense minister, has been a critic of Russia's role in Ukraine. Putin also said he was "very thankful" to the Italian government for being in favor of the lifting of EU sanctions against Russia.
The hour day of meetings for Putin was due to wrap up with a gala dinner hosted by Conte. To mark the occasion 50 streets in Rome's city center were closed off to traffic and hundreds of police officers patrolled the city.
Putin calls on von der Leyen to help improve EU-Russia links
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In his latest, Putin and the pontiff met for an hour and discussed topics of international concern — namely the ongoing situations in war-torn Syria and Venezuela. Putin, who arrived in Rome in the late morning, opened the visit at the Vatican, where some observers believe his meeting could be a prelude to a papal visit to Russia. The meeting comes the day before Catholic leaders from Ukraine gather at the Holy See to discuss the continuing conflict there and the fallout from the schism between the Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox churches.
The push for a full-fledged and independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church was bolstered by fighting in eastern Ukraine between government forces and Russia-backed rebels. He will meet privately with a long-time friend, former Premier Silvio Berlusconi, before returning to Moscow.
They also exchanged gifts: The pope gave Putin an 18th-century engraving with a view of St. Read Next. Israel rocked by protests after cop kills Ethiopian teenag This story has been shared 98, times. This story has been shared 71, times. This story has been shared 58, times.
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