Friday, 19 October, 2018

Vladimir Putin dances with Austrian foreign minister at her wedding

Russian President Vladimir Putin Russian President Vladimir Putin
Gerardo Duncan | 19 August, 2018, 16:29

Few details were revealed.

Standing beside Putin before the talks, Merkel said both countries - but especially Russian Federation as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council - had a responsibility to try to solve the ongoing fighting in Ukraine and Syria.

The Minsk agreements, a peace process sponsored by Germany and France aimed at ending the conflict in eastern Ukraine, is at a standstill, Merkel said, pointing at the absence of a "stable ceasefire".

Former British foreign secretary Boris Johnson said last September that the US, Britain, and their allies would not support Syria's reconstruction as long as President Bashar al-Assad remained in power.

Ukranian officials are concerned Russia could stop delivering natural gas through Ukraine, which works as a transit country for Russian natural-gas export to the European Union and levies a fee on the trade, after Gazprom's transit contract expires at the end of 2019, since there would be less demand for it.

The multi-billion pound Nord Stream 2 will run through the Baltic Sea and supply gas to Germany and the EU.

Putin's meeting with Merkel late Saturday takes place at the German government's guesthouse in Meseberg, north of Berlin.

Putin told reporters that such a move had to make sense for Moscow from a business perspective.

On Ukraine, Merkel said she hoped there would be fresh efforts could be undertaken at the beginning of the new school year to disentangle Ukrainian military forces and separatists on the front lines in the Donbass region.

"I want to stress here that Nord Stream 2 is only an economic project and it does not close the door to the continuation of gas transit through the territory of Ukraine", he said. Merkel said that even after the launch of the Nord Stream 2, Ukraine "should play its part in gas transit to Europe".

Turkey on Wednesday doubled tariffs on several US goods, including alcohol and tobacco products and cars, after Trump increased USA tariffs on Turkish aluminum and steel imports to 20 percent and 50 percent, respectively. Germany's eastern European neighbors, nervous of Russian encroachment, have also raised concerns about the project.

But Merkel has maintained that the Nord Stream project is an economic, not political matter for Germany.

Standing alongside Ms Merkel, Vladimir Putin also said he would discuss Iran and ways to help Europe with the "huge burden" of refugees fleeing conflict in the Middle East.

On Iran, the Russian president said he would discuss with Merkel the Iran nuclear deal between world powers and Iran.

Putin is facing the possibility of more US sanctions on Russian Federation imposed by Trump, and has an interest in softening or heading off any European support for them.

Merkel warned on August 17 against expecting too much from her discussions with Putin.

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