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Russian President Putin to visit Berlusconi
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08:48, April 16, 2008

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Outgoing Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Silvio Berlusconi later this week at the Sardinian villa where the leaders cemented their friendship, Italian News Agency ANSA said Tuesday.

Putin will spend April 17 and 18 at the luxurious Villa Certosa, owned by billionaire media magnate Berlusconi who has just swept to power for the third time.

The announcement came shortly after Putin took over the chairmanship of Russia's majority party. Putin is to step down from his post on May 7, but he has promised to take on the new role of prime minister under his successor Dmitry Medvedev's presidency.

Berlusconi emerged with a stronger-than-expected mandate to govern following the two-day general election that concluded Monday.

Center-left challenger Walter Veltroni conceded defeat in a phone call to Berlusconi after projections based on vote results showed the latter's center-right alliance had gained a solid majority in both the lower house and the Senate.

Berlusconi struck up a strong friendship with Putin, 55, during his last term as Italian premier from 2001 to 2006.

Putin last visited Villa Certosa in August 2003, when he was greeted with a kiss, embrace and handshake, and a guard of honor from Italy's three armed services at the island's Costa Smeralda airport.


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