Medvedev in Germany for talks with Merkel

4th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev arrived in Germany Friday for talks with Angela Merkel set to be dominated by Iran's nuclear programme and the Middle East.

The chancellor received Medvedev at the government's official residence in Meseberg outside Berlin for two days of what the German government called "informal" discussions.

The two leaders were due to give a news conference on Saturday at midday (1000 GMT).

Both countries are in a group of six powers negotiating with Iran to get it to suspend uranium enrichment, and Merkel has been pushing for months for the UN Security Council to slap more sanctions on the Islamic republic.

Russia, which like Germany has strong commercial links with Iran, is more reticent, as is fellow permanent and veto-wielding Security Council member China.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday that "paralysing sanctions" had been purged from a new draft resolution against Iran to take into account "the economic interests of Russia and China."

Merkel's spokesman said on Friday that the two leaders would also discuss her proposal for the Middle East quartet -- the United Nations, the US, the European Union and Russia -- to take part in a probe into the deadly Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla this week.

At an EU-Russia summit in Rostov-on-Don on Tuesday the bloc's new president Herman Van Rompuy expressed his "great concern" at Moscow's human rights record and Merkel is also expected to raise the issue with Medvedev.

Merkel, who is considerably less cosy with Moscow than her predecessor Gerhard Schroeder, made plain she was not amused at the time of Russia and Georgia's short war in August 2008.

But Germany and Russia enjoy close commercial ties, with trade between the two worth close to 50 billion euros (60 billion dollars) last year.

© 2010 AFP

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