Italian PM Meloni to visit Kyiv on Monday to meet Zelenskiy

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ROME, Feb 19 (Reuters) – Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni will travel to Kyiv on Monday to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a political source said on Sunday.

Meloni, who took office in October, had said she planned to visit Kyiv before the Feb. 24 anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year.

Despite friction on the issue within her rightist ruling coalition and divided public opinion, Meloni has been a firm supporter of Ukraine.

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, leader of the conservative Forza Italia party that is part of Meloni’s coalition, last week said he would not seek a meeting with Zelenskiy if he were still head of government because he blames the Ukrainian President for the war with Russia.

The European People’s Party (EPP), of which Forza Italia is a member, said on Friday it was cancelling a planned event in Naples in June due to Berlusconi’s remarks on Ukraine.

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, one of Forza Italia’s founders, said on Saturday he had met with Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on the sidelines of a Group of Seven meeting in Munich, reassuring him of Italy’s support.

Italy and France have recently finalised talks over delivery of an advanced air defence system to Kyiv in the spring.

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