Abe to visit Italy, Vatican in June: source

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is planning to visit Italy and the Vatican next month before or after joining other Group of Seven leaders at a summit scheduled for June 4 and 5 in Brussels, a Japanese government source said Monday.

It will be the first time since 2009 for a Japanese premier to visit Italy and the city state within Rome. The government is finalizing the schedule of the tour, the source said.

In Rome, Abe and his Italian counterpart Matteo Renzi are likely to discuss the situation in Ukraine as well as the ongoing negotiations for a free trade agreement between Japan and the European Union. Italy will assume the six-month presidency of the 28-member union July 1.

In the Vatican, he will meet with Pope Francis, according to the source.

The G-7 summit, involving Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, will be held with the exclusion of Russia, which had taken this year's chairmanship of the Group of Eight forum, in protest of Moscow's intervention in Ukraine.