Medvedev arrives in Germany for Merkel talks

18th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev arrived in Germany Monday for talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel, which are expected to be dominated by growing energy ties, a spokeswoman said.

Medvedev, who had a large business delegation in tow, was to join the German leader for an informal dinner at a lakeside restaurant in the northern city of Hanover ahead of an annual joint cabinet meeting Tuesday.

Germany's decision, sealed this month, to scrap all of its nuclear reactors within 11 years has left it scrambling to nail down other energy sources, making gas and oil-rich Russia an even more attractive partner.

"Knowing that Germany has decided on the state level to completely turn away from the nuclear sector by 2022, it opens the door to new possibilities to develop cooperation in this sphere," the Kremlin said in a statement.

It said this included the chance to boost deliveries of Russian gas through the Nord Stream pipeline being built under the Baltic Sea and due to go online in October.

Meanwhile last Thursday, Russia's state-controlled energy giant Gazprom and Germany's number-two utilities group RWE announced exclusive negotiations on a sweeping deal to construct power plants in Europe.

The 13th so-called "government consultations" are aimed at bolstering ties between the wartime foes and advancing the "modernisation" of Russia's political and legal systems after the fall of communism.

Merkel will join Medvedev early Tuesday to lay a wreath at a memorial for a group of prisoners murdered by the Nazis in Hanover in May 1945 including 154 Soviet citizens.

They will then attend a breakfast with Russian and German business executives, followed by a stop at a high-level bilateral forum discussing democratic reforms and the rule of law in Russia.

The leaders are to ink a dozen economic, political and environmental agreements, oversee the signing of several business contracts and hold talks on international hotspots including North Africa and the Middle East.

This year's meeting, however, was prefaced by an embarrassing debate surrounding a democracy prize from a private German foundation that was to go to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Organisers announced at the weekend that they would rescind their invitation to Putin to accept the Quadriga Prize after a storm of protest in Berlin over his disputed record on human rights, media freedom and the Chechnya conflict.

Although Russia's ambassador to Germany complained about a "very distasteful and indecent" flap, both governments insisted it would not mar the talks.

© 2011 AFP

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