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G7 leaders 'reckless' to exclude Russia, says Berlusconi

Ex-premier says ruling out Moscow runs counter to diplomacy

25 March, 19:16
G7 leaders 'reckless' to exclude Russia, says Berlusconi (ANSA) - Rome, March 25 - Leaders of the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations made a "counterproductive" and "reckless" decision when they suspended Russia, ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi said Tuesday.

On Monday, the G7 leaders, who had expanded the group to include Russia and become the G8 in 1998, agreed to suspend Moscow from the G8 over its rapid annexation of Crimea after the region voted to separate from Ukraine.

The G7, which includes Italy, also announced plans to boycott a G8 meeting that had been planned for Sochi, the Russia city that recently played host to the Winter Olympics, and would instead meet in June in Brussels.

"I find it counterproductive and anti-historical, the decision of the rule out Russia from the G8," Berlusconi said in a statement.

"I find it really reckless and far away from the spirit of constructive (diplomacy)," he added.

Berlusconi struck up a friendship with Russian President Vladimir Putin more than a decade ago, and Putin invited Berlusconi to his 60th birthday party in St. Petersburg in 2012.