Beginning of the Meeting with Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D’Alema 2006-12-05 18:49:52 The Kremlin, Moscow Russian President Vladimir Putin: Dear Mr Minister, dear colleagues. I warmly welcome you to Moscow. I am very pleased that relations between our countries are developing independently of the changes that take place in our internal political environments. We are very happy that you came and glad to continue our contacts within intergovernmental organisations. I think that this will act as a good step for preparing intergovernmental consultations that will take place next year in Italy. I hope that before then we will be able to meet with Prime Minister Prodi. We have things to talk about and our relations are developing in a great many fields – in energy, in high tech, in aviation and in the space sector. And today you will certainly also have a lot of work to do. Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D’Alema: As a matter of fact, we held very positive meetings that emphasised our very intensive relations. Relations that are quickly becoming stronger. We are Russia’s third biggest trading partner. If one were to refer to the Olympics, then one could say that third is already on the podium. We want to continue to participate in this competitive struggle and to raise ourselves to the next step. However, in my opinion, we need to give special acknowledgement to the quality of our relations, since their quality is very high. For example, in the energy sector we have a strategic partnership – our relations are more than relations between countries in which one buys and the other sells. And we are also working together in the high-tech field. I consider precisely the quality of our relations to be very high. And both parties should probably work towards increasing the exchange of information.