Europe

Putin drops in on Berlusconi during Milan summit

Vladimir Putin at the Milan summit, 17 October Image copyright AP
Image caption Vladimir Putin dons his jacket after a meeting at the Milan summit on Friday

Russian President Vladimir Putin has paid a late-night visit to disgraced Italian ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi during a summit in Milan.

He left the home of the convicted tax fraudster after two hours, at 03:45 (01:45 GMT), the Kremlin confirmed.

The two enjoyed good personal relations while Berlusconi was in power.

Mr Putin, 62, had already raised eyebrows by missing a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday, the first day of the summit.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Thursday afternoon: Watching a Serbian air force fly-past in Belgrade
Image copyright AP
Image caption Thursday evening: Finally in Milan
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Four hours late: First talks with Angela Merkel on Thursday evening
Image copyright EPA
Image caption 03:45 Friday: Berlusconi waves goodbye
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Friday morning: Back for more summit talks

He was in the Serbian capital Belgrade as guest of honour at a military parade to mark the city's liberation from Nazi Germany 70 years ago.

The talks with Mrs Merkel, which focused on the peace process in Ukraine, eventually started four hours late, Russian media report.

Correspondents say Mr Putin has a reputation for arriving late. He kept Pope Francis waiting 50 minutes when he visited the Vatican last year.

The Russian president met Berlusconi "by special permission" of the judicial authorities, Italian journalist Gerardo Pelosi said in a tweet.

"After the completion of official events... Putin came to see his old friend Berlusconi," Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed.

Despite his late night out, Mr Putin was back early on Friday for more talks with Mrs Merkel.

Berlusconi, 78, is serving a sentence of one year of community service at a care home near Milan since being convicted of tax fraud last year and ejected from the Italian Senate.

In July, an appeals court overturned his separate conviction for paying for sex with a minor. The court explained its decision on Thursday by saying there was not enough evidence to show Berlusconi had known Karima El-Mahroug was under 18 at the time.

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