Merkel, Medvedev meet ahead of G20, NATO summits

1st April 2009, Comments 0 comments

The meeting pays testament to ‘the strength and consistency of Russia and Germany's multifaceted strategic partnership,’ the Kremlin said.

Berlin -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev met German Chancellor Angela Merkel Tuesday to swap notes ahead of this week's G20 and NATO summits and to discuss gas supplies to Moscow's top European consumer.

The fact that the two leaders were touching base before the G20 summit in London on Thursday pays testament to "the strength and consistency of Russia and Germany's multifaceted strategic partnership," a Kremlin statement said.

The summit of leaders of the Group of 20 most industrialised and developing nations in London on Thursday is aimed at pulling the world economy out of its worst downturn in decades and re-writing the financial rulebooks.

Ahead of the summit, the Kremlin published a raft of proposals to overhaul the global economic order, including plans for a supra-national currency that could replace the US dollar as a reserve currency.

China has come forward with similar ideas.

US President Barack Obama has said he does not see why the dollar should be replaced and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the summit would have more immediate issues to discuss.

A senior German official on Tuesday also slapped down the proposal, saying it would "not be an issue."

The talks between Merkel and Medvedev, due to start at around 5:00 pm (1500 GMT) and followed by a news conference an hour later, were also expected to touch on security issues ahead of NATO's 60th anniversary summit taking place in France and Germany on Friday and Saturday.

Russia is not part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and Medvedev will not be in Strasbourg, France and the German towns of Baden-Baden and Kehl for the get-together attended -- like the G20 summit -- by Obama.

Moscow has been irked by the prospect of countries along its border becoming alliance members -- it fought a short war with NATO aspirant Georgia last August -- and by US plans for parts of a missile defence shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.

The Kremlin said the two leaders plan to discuss Russia's proposal for a new European security pact, an idea Medvedev first made on a visit to Berlin last year that has so far received a cool welcome among big powers.

Keeping friendly with Russia is an important consideration for NATO's increasingly tough mission in Afghanistan.

Germany has around 3,500 troops there as one of 41 nations forming the 60,000-strong NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.

The United States has an additional 10,000 soldiers in Afghanistan under separate command and President Barack Obama has promised to send another 21,000 troops.

In February, Kyrgyzstan ordered the closure of a major US air base on its territory that Washington uses as a hub for its Afghan operation.

Analysts said that the announcement, which Kyrgyzstan has since softened, is linked to Russian opposition to US military moves in the region and a Russian offer of 2.3 billion dollars (1.7 billion euros) in aid and loans.

But no less important will be the issue of gas.

In January Russia cut off gas supplies to Europe via Ukraine in the latest of a string of pricing disputes with Kiev, leaving millions of people in central Europe and the Balkans without heating in the midst of a cold snap.

Germany is Europe's biggest economy and Russia's biggest gas customer in Europe in terms of volume, relying on Moscow for almost 40 percent of its supplies.

The crisis has made Germany even keener on developing a German-Russian pipeline project known as Nord Stream to carry gas straight from Russia to northern Germany, under the Baltic Sea -- thereby bypassing Ukraine.

Trade between the two countries is a two-way street, with over 4,500 German firms holding subsidiaries in Russia, and before meeting Merkel Medvedev was due to meet executives from German firms like Siemens and Volkswagen.

Anna Smolchenko/AFP/Expatica

0 Comments To This Article