Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi envisages a "continuing friendship" between Italy and the US under president- elect Barack Obama, and could assist him in improving US relations with Russia, the premier's spokesman said Wednesday, reported dpa.
Berlusconi - a personal friend of outgoing President George W Bush, whose military intervention in Iraq he backed - would have no problem adapting to the new Democrat president, spokesman Paolo Bonaiuti told Italian state radio.
In 1994, during a previous stint as Italian premier, the billionaire-turned-politician maintained "an excellent relationship" with the then US president Bill Clinton, Bonaiuti said.
Italy is scheduled to host next year's Group of Eight (G8) summit and, according to Bonaiuti, Berlusconi can play a key role in Obama's future ties with Europe, especially now "there is Russia with which the United States wants to install a balanced relationship."
Berlusconi's good ties with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin could serve this purpose, Bonaiuti said.
In his reaction to Obama's victory, Italian centre-left opposition leader Walter Veltroni said it represented a "victory of hope over fear."
Veltroni, who earlier this year borrowed Obama's message of change and hope for his own, unsuccessful election campaign against Berlusconi's conservatives, said the Democratic candidate's victory could serve as an inspiration to many in Europe and elsewhere.