March 25 - Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has says decision by G7 to exclude Russia from a G8 summit is ''counterproductive.'' Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi says that he feels the decision by western countries to exclude Russia from the G8 is "counterproductive." Leaders of the Group of Seven nations, which does not include Russia, agreed Monday to hold their own summit instead of attending a G8 meeting in Russia after Russia's annexation of Crimea. (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) FORMER ITALIAN PRIME MINISTER SILVIO BERLUSCONI SAYING: "I find the decision by leaders meeting in The Hague to exclude Russia from the G8, counterproductive. This a contrast to the work that the Italian government has carried out, we were the first to invite Russian President Boris Yeltsin to the G7 in Naples in 1994. And it was us again that transform the G7 into the G8 in Genoa inviting Russian President Vladimir Putin. I think what happened yesterday is in contrast to history, we managed to make the Russian federation think of itself as western rather than an eastern power, a member of the western democracies." This is the first time since Russia joined the Group of Eight in 1998 that it will have been shut out of the annual summit of industrialized democracies. Berlusconi and Russian President Vladimir Putin have a long friendship.