Berlusconi to visit Belarus Monday: envoy

(MINSK) - Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will visit Belarus on Monday, the Italian ambassador was quoted by state media as saying Tuesday, after the EU decided to upgrade ties with the ex-Soviet state.

"Belarus and Italy... could in the near future make a major breakthrough in mutually-advantageous cooperation, which the upcoming November 30 visit to Minsk of Silvio Berlusconi shows," state news agency Belta quoted Ambassador Giulio Prigioni as saying.

If confirmed, Berlusconi would be one of the only Western leaders to travel to Belarus since President Alexander Lukashenko came to power in 1994 and was later dubbed by the United States "the last dictator in Europe."

Word of the Berlusconi visit came after European Union nations on November 17 agreed to seek improved ties with Belarus, and refrained from enforcing a travel ban on its leaders.


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