Medvedev heads to Germany on first W. Europe trip

The conservative Merkel, a pastor's daughter from communist East Germany, has also been outspoken about Russia's democratic record and openly scolded Putin at a summit last year for stopping opposition figures taking part in a rally.

Medvedev heads to Germany on first W. Europe trip
New Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visits Germany on Thursday on his first official trip to Western Europe, one that will be closely watched for signs of Moscow's future ties with its European Union neighbors.

Medvedev, sworn in last month, will address economic and energy questions when he meets German Chancellor Angela Merkel, but the two leaders are also set to talk about divisive international issues including Kosovo's independence.

"The distinguishing characteristic in Russian-German cooperation has been the determination to seek points of contact, the ability for compromise and to overcome whatever issues arise," a Kremlin source told Reuters.

Medvedev's predecessor Vladimir Putin opposed the West on issues such as independence for Kosovo and U.S. plans to deploy elements of its missile system in Europe.

The conservative Merkel, a pastor's daughter from communist East Germany, has also been outspoken about Russia's democratic record and openly scolded Putin at a summit last year for stopping opposition figures taking part in a rally.

Merkel has taken a tougher line over Russia's rights record than both her predecessor Gerhard Schroeder and her Social Democratic Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a potential challenger in next year's general election.

"I am convinced that Russian-German economic relations can be developed in many areas and that we can make a contribution to the modernization of Russia in many areas," said Merkel, who speaks fluent Russian.

Germany is Russia's leading trading partner with annual turnover of $53 billion. The two countries are building a pipeline under the Baltic Sea to deliver Siberian gas to Europe.

"Russia is ready to cooperate with Germany not only in extracting and transporting oil and gas, but also in electric and nuclear energy, energy machine-building," Medvedev's chief foreign policy adviser, Sergei Prikhodko, was quoted as saying by Interfax.

Russia was prepared to broaden cooperation with Germany in the energy sector and was ready to discuss major joint projects in general terms during Medvedev's visit to Berlin, he said.

Officials said the two leaders would also discuss the Russia-EU summit later this month, which is set to launch talks on a new partnership pact mapping out long-term relations on issues ranging from energy to visas and trade.

"Germany has a very serious, sometimes tough, but very pragmatic position on issues concerning deepening dialogue between Russia and the European Union," Prikhodko said.

EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner has said the summit will be an opportunity to take the temperature of relations with Russia.


Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 05 Haziran 2008, 18:18
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