MOSCOW Germany's Angela Merkel will visit Moscow for talks on May 2, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday, the chancellor's first trip to Russia in nearly two years. The agenda of Merkel's visit has yet to be made public, but talks are likely to focus on the Ukraine crisis, EU sanctions imposed on Moscow, trade ties, and German concerns that Russia may try to meddle in a parliamentary election in September.
Putin and Merkel last met face-to-face in Berlin in October last year at multi-lateral talks on Ukraine. The German politician, who has said EU sanctions must stay in force until Russia alters its behaviour, last visited Moscow in May 2015 to take part in celebrations marking the end of World War Two.
"Give my best wishes to the federal chancellor," Putin told Horst Seehofer, Bavaria's prime minister, who was in Moscow for talks on Thursday. "We are waiting for her to visit on May 2." Seehofer confirmed Merkel was planning to visit that day.
Merkel has played a pivotal role in keeping European Union states united behind the sanctions against Russia. They were imposed over Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula, and its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.But Merkel's government has also come under pressure from powerful industrial lobbies in Germany who say that their businesses have suffered as a result of the sanctions. (Reporting by Jack Stubbs; Writing by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Christian Lowe)
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Updated Date: Mar 16, 2017 22:32:35 IST