Merkel stresses "partnership" with Russia

14th October 2007, Comments 0 comments

14 October 2007, Berlin (dpa) - Chancellor Angela Merkel has stressed the need for "good relations at all levels" with Russia ahead of a two-day meeting with President Vladimir Putin that begins in the western German city of Wiesbaden on Sunday. "Germany and Russia are bound together by a strategic partnership," Merkel said Saturday in her weekly video broadcast. "We desire good relations at all levels," the chancellor said, mentioning economic cooperation, science and technology, judicial issues and forei

14 October 2007

Berlin (dpa) - Chancellor Angela Merkel has stressed the need for "good relations at all levels" with Russia ahead of a two-day meeting with President Vladimir Putin that begins in the western German city of Wiesbaden on Sunday.

"Germany and Russia are bound together by a strategic partnership," Merkel said Saturday in her weekly video broadcast.

"We desire good relations at all levels," the chancellor said, mentioning economic cooperation, science and technology, judicial issues and foreign policy questions.

Merkel said her Sunday evening meeting with Putin would focus on bilateral problems.

Among the themes to be discussed were dealing with Iran's nuclear programme and the need for new sanctions, as well as the long-term status of Kosovo.

While Moscow is opposed to increased sanctions on Iran imposed by the UN Security Council, Germany has made clear that Tehran must give an adequate response by mid-November to questions posed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), while also stressing the need for a negotiated solution to the current impasse.

The two countries also disagree over Kosovo, with Russia insisting that Serbian demands that the breakaway province should not gain independence be taken into account.

Energy security and economic issues are high on the agenda at the conference, and Merkel is thought likely to raise human rights and political issues.

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev regretted what he saw as "mistrust" in the European Union towards Russia.

Speaking in Wiesbaden Saturday at the start of the annual St Petersburg Dialogue between Germany and Russia, Gorbachev criticized "irresponsible" comments made by EU leaders.

The EU and Russia needed a new basis following the expiry of their current partnership agreement, Gorbachev said. Talks on renewing the agreement have been stalled by Polish objections.

Putin and former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder initiated the annual St Petersburg Dialogue as part of the German-Russian Forum in 2001.

Germany's opposition Greens Party called Saturday on Merkel to press Putin on his suggestion made last week that he could become Russian prime minister on leaving office in March.

Greens parliamentary caucus leader Volker Beck warned the Russian president could circumvent the constitutional requirement that a president should serve only two consecutive terms.

Putin could be planning to become prime minister for just a few months before returning to the presidency, Beck said.

DPA

Subject: German news

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