(Changes attribution of quote in third paragraph from Conte to coalition contract, removes reference to deepening ties in first paragraph)
ROME, Oct 16 (Reuters) - European Union sanctions against Russia are damaging Italian companies, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Tuesday.
His comments come a day after Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini had defined the EU sanctions a “social, cultural and economic absurdity”.
In the coalition contract drawn up in May, Italy’s ruling parties wrote that Russia should not be seen as “a menace but rather an economic and commercial partner, potentially increasingly significant”. (Reporting by Angelo Amante; Writing by Giulia Segreti; Editing by Crispian Balmer and Matthew Mpoke Bigg)