DATE=6/5/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=PUTIN / ROME (L) NUMBER=2-263191 BYLINE=SABINA CASTELFRANCO DATELINE=ROME INTERNET=YES CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Russian President Vladimir Putin has renewed a proposal to work with Europe and NATO on a joint anti- missile defense system that would not violate the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The Russian head of state was speaking in Italy, where he is making his first official visit to a Western state since he was elected. Sabina Castelfranco reports from Rome. TEXT: The Russian President arrived in Rome and immediately went into talks with Italian Prime Minister Giuliano Amato. The two hour meeting focused on economic, humanitarian and security issues. Mr. Putin later said that many people around the world are concerned about maintaining the 1972 anti-ballistic missile accord. Russia has repeatedly expressed concerns about a U-S proposal to build a limited missile defense system to defend against attacks by so called rogue-states. During his talks in Rome, Mr. Putin proposed that Russia cooperate with NATO and Europe to set up a common anti-missile defense system. The Russian leader said such a system would avoid problems involving the imbalances of forces and would guarantee the security of individual European states. For his part, the Italian prime minister expressed satisfaction with the talks. After his meeting with the Italian prime minister, the Russian head of state went to the Vatican for an private audience with Pope John Paul II. According to a statement released by the Vatican's papal spokesman, the Pope and Mr. Putin discussed disarmament issues and the role of the Vatican and Russia in the integration process between East and West. On Monday evening Mr. Putin was to be the guest of honor at a banquet offered by Italy's head of state in the presidential palace in Rome. Tuesday, the Russian president travels to Italy's financial capital, Milan, for meetings with business leaders. Mr. Putin hopes to boost Italian investment in Russia where two of Italy's largest companies, oil- giant Eni and car-maker Fiat are already active. Italy is Russia's third most important trade partner among industrialized nations. (Signed) NEB/SC/KBK 05-Jun-2000 16:26 PM LOC (05-Jun-2000 2026 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .