Merkel says don't expect much from meeting with Putin

Merkel says don't expect much from meeting with Putin

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Merkel spoke to French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday, ahead of her meeting with Putin, and discussed the situation in Ukraine and Syria, Macron's office said Friday in a statement, without elaborating.

Standing beside Putin outside Meseberg palace, Merkel said she would also raise human rights issues and bilateral relations. "I believe that Ukraine should maintain its role in the transit of gas to Europe also in the presence of the Nord Stream 2", she said.

Both leaders raised concerns about Syria and the plight of the many refugees created by the seven-year-old war there.

"It's a working meeting from which no specific results are expected - but the number of problems that occupy us - from Ukraine and Syria to the issue of economic cooperation - is so big that it is justified to be in a permanent dialogue", Merkel said.

Mr Putin promised action on Syrian refugees, saying "we must do everything" to help them return home.

The two leaders agreed in principle that Iran should exit Syria, according to the person, who discussed the matter on condition of anonymity. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said in July.

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The two sides have sparred in recent years over Russia's annexation of Crimea, its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, for Syrian dictator Bashar Assad as he executes a brutal military campaign, over charges that Moscow interfered in the last U.S. presidential election, and, most recently, over British allegations that the Kremlin tried to kill former spy Sergei Skripal, who now lives in the UK.

Putin told reporters that such a move had to make sense for Moscow from a business perspective. "Nord Stream 2 is exclusively an economic project".

The United States is against the pipeline and claims it will increase Germany's dependence on Russian Federation for energy.

Austrian authorities imposed tight security measures around the site of the ceremony near the southern border with Slovenia, where foreign minister Karin Kneissl married her partner Wolfgang Meilinger, a businessman.

Earlier, Germany's foreign minister Heiko Maas said he was "relatively optimistic about the chances of a United Nations mission", telling the Die Welt newspaper: "We want to give a new dynamic to the Minsk process".

Sanctions relief for Russian Federation would only be negotiated if the Minsk accord was implemented, he added.

Speaking to the press on Friday, Mrs Merkel said she would like to discuss the possibility of a meeting on Syria with other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation partners, but that "no specific results are expected" from Saturday's working meeting.

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