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Business news, 10.10.2005 14:21

Russia Wants Top-level Contact with Germany

german_chancellor_gerhard_schroeder Russian President Vladimir Putin told visiting German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder Friday that he wants top-level contacts between the two nations to continue despite domestic political events in Germany.

"We would like to maintain contacts on the summit level and between our ministries and departments regardless any internal political events," Putin said at a meeting with Schroeder in the northern city of St. Petersburg, according to the Itar-Tass news agency.

"I know, and we all know how complicated the internal political events in Germany are," Putin added.

Schroeder arrived in St. Petersburg on the birthday of the Russian president, with whom the German leader maintains good personal relations. Putin speaks fluent German.

Putin visited Berlin days before the German elections in September to oversee the signing of a major deal on a Russia-Germany gas pipeline on the Baltic seabed.

The German chancellor said he is visiting out of Germany's need for strategic relations with Russia but is also to congratulate Putin on his birthday.

"Everyone is convinced that the continuation of relations between the two countries and between Russia and Europe will be secured," Schroeder said.

Schroeder departed Berlin as Germany is locked in dispute over who will lead the country following the September parliamentary elections, in which neither Schroeder nor his conservative rival Angela Merkel secured majority.

Before embarking on the Russia visit, Schroeder talked with Merkel and other political leaders Thursday behind closed-doors in a bid to break the deadlock.

The probability is high for a coalition between Schroeder's Social Democratic Party and the bloc of Merkel's Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union, Schroeder said in St. Petersburg.

The German leader said the partners would continue to discuss coalition details and he would brief Putin on the coalition blueprint.

Germany is Russia's major trading partner in Europe. Bilateral trade reached 23.9 billion US dollars in 2004.

(Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, meets German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in St. Petersburg, Russia, late Friday. Photo: AP)

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