ROME - Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives in Rome on an official state visit Thursday. He will meet with the prime minister and the pope during his short time in the Italian capital.
Security in Rome is very tight for Putin's arrival Thursday morning. A green zone has been created in the city center, involving numerous street closures. Regular traffic will be banned.
One thousand officers will guarantee the president’s safety. Snipers will be deployed on rooftops and terraces, and drones and helicopters will be used to control the airspace.
It will be a lightning visit for Putin as he will spend just 10 hours in the Italian capital.
His first stop will be the Vatican where he will meet with Pope Francis, whom he has met twice before.
The pope Wednesday expressed his condolences and closeness to the families of the 14 Russian sailors who were killed on board a Russian navy research submarine.
The Vatican and Russia re-established full diplomatic relations in 2009. There has been speculation that during his meeting at the Vatican, Putin may invite the pontiff to visit Russia.
After the Vatican, Putin will meet with Italian President Sergio Mattarella and then with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
The Kremlin has said discussions are expected to focus on key issues for Russian-Italian cooperation in the political, economic, cultural and humanitarian fields.
More pressing issues may include the situations in Libya and Iran, and the U.S. threat to enact punitive measures on Moscow’s partners.