Gentiloni meets Putin (2)

But Italy won't break ranks over sanctions, says premier

(ANSA) - Rome, May 17 - Premier Paolo Gentiloni said Italy was supporting a resumption in dialogue between Russia and the EU after meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on Wednesday. "It is necessary to resume the EU-Russia dialogue with strength," Gentiloni said. "It is a strategic partnership that the Ukraine crisis cannot cancel out".
    Gentiloni added, however, that Italy will not break ranks from the rest of the EU over sanctions on Russia. "No one should think that Italy will break ranks with its allies on its own," he said. He also stressed that the renewal of the sanctions on Russia following the Ukraine crisis was a decision that "cannot be taken on autopilot without discussions beforehand".
    Putin highlighted the importance of relations with Rome in a joint press conference held after the bilateral meeting. "Italy is an important partner for Russia," he said. "It is one of the key countries in our foreign trade. I want to stress the importance of today's meeting with Premier Paolo Gentiloni. We discussed many issues".