Merkel in Russia for talks with Medvedev

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Russia Wednesday to hold trade talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

The two leaders are to be joined by ministers from their respective governments for the two-day meeting in the city of Yekaterinburg, which will focus on economic cooperation, the Kremlin said in a statement.

Merkel and Medvedev will meet for an informal dinner later Wednesday.

The two sides are expected to sign a dozen agreements covering the economy, technology and cultural exchanges, said the office of the governor of Sverdlovsk, whose capital is Yekaterinberg.

They are to discuss a partnership between the Russia's RJD railway company and Germany's Siemens, the Kremlin statement added.

German government sources say Siemens will sign a 2.2-billion-euro (2.8-billion-dollar) order to supply RJD with 200 trains for its regional network.

Several business leaders are accompanying Merkel to Russia and on to China and Kazakhstan.

The two countries will also discuss the controversy of Iran's nuclear programme, the situation in Iran, the Afghanistan conflict and Russia's relations with the European Union.

Germany may also raise the issue of human rights: Thursday will be the first anniversary of the murder of journalist and human rights activist Natalia Estemirova.

Her body was found in Ingushetia hours after she was abducted from Chechnya, in the Russian Caucasus.

Germany is Russia's main economic partner, with the two countries involved in 60 billion dollars' worth of trade in 2008.

© 2010 AFP

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