Italy PM in Russia for Trade Talks

Italy PM in Russia for Trade Talks

MOSCOW (AP) -- Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is holding talks with Russian officials on his first trip to Moscow.

Wednesday's negotiations are focusing on expanding economic ties that have been hurt by European Union sanctions against Russia and Moscow's retaliatory moves.

Trade between Russia and Italy has slowly increased in recent years as the Russian economy has climbed out of recession, but it remains a fraction of what it was before EU penalties triggered by Russia's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and support for an insurgency in eastern Ukraine.

Several rounds of EU and U.S. sanctions have forced Italian energy giant ENI to bail out of a joint venture with Russia's top state oil company, Rosneft, intended to tap Black Sea oil reserves.