Merkel cancels Russia trip ahead of eurozone debate

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called off a trip to Russia she was to take next month because of "a scheduling conflict", a government spokesman in Berlin said Thursday.

The trip was cancelled "in common accord" with the Russians, the source added.

The Financial Times Deutschland (FTD) newspaper, in its edition to be published Friday, said the move was due to the start of parliamentary debates in Germany on expanding the role of Europe's emergency financial rescue fund.

The fund is meant to offer further financial assistance to debt-ridden eurozone countries such as Greece.

Expansion of the fund was agreed by eurozone leaders at a summit in Brussels on July 21.

Germany's lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, returns from holiday on September 6 and is expected to start debating expansion of the fund shortly afterwards.

Parliament is expected to vote on the matter by September 23.

Merkel is assured of a majority as both the opposition Social Democrats and Greens have offered support. But she fears a revolt from some of her own backbenchers and is seeking to rally her troops ahead of the debate.

She was to have travelled to Yaroslavl, northeast of Moscow, September 7-8 to give a speech at a conference on modern governance on the invitation of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

Instead, the FTD reported, she will address the German parliament during a budget debate.

© 2011 AFP

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