St Petersburg International Economic Forum

Putin, Renzi drop hints on their choices for US president

Roberta Basile | Pacific Press/LightRocket | Getty Images

The theme was "capitalizing on the new economic reality," but the leaders of both Italy and Russia veered off topic to discuss the U.S.'s presidential fight at a joint conference on Friday.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi dropped a clear hint on his favorite for next U.S. president, speaking on stage with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

"I certainly hope the next person to be elected will be Madame President," he told the packed hall, in an apparent indorsement of Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate.

Putin, meanwhile, expressed approval for Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican candidate.

"Mr Trump said he is ready to restore Russia and American relations. What can be bad about that? We welcome that," Putin said

"He is a bright person," he added separately.

The U.S. election will take place in November. The most recent NBC News poll shows Clinton leading Trump by 49 percent to 42 percent. The poll was conducted online last week among 9,355 adults.

The Italian prime minister also turned his attention to next week's referendum in the U.K. on its place in Europe, warning that there would be no turning back if it voted to leave.

"If the United Kingdom leaves Europe, it is forever," he said, according to Reuters.