Merkel to meet Putin over Syrian war, Ukraine crisis

Indo Asian News Service

Moscow, May 2 (IANS) German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, as Berlin-Moscow relations remain stuck at a low over the Ukraine crisis and Syrian war.

Merkel, making her first trip to Russia since 2015, will meet Putin at his summer residence in Sochi on the Black Sea coast, CNN reported.

The issue of sanctions is likely to be high on the agenda. Merkel has openly backed the European Union's decision to place sanctions on Russia following Moscow's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.

She has been the lead mediator in talks with Russia over Crimea, according to the report.

Both the leaders are expected to discuss the Minsk agreements, a deal brokered by Merkel and French President Francois Hollande with the aim of resolving the Ukraine crisis.

Germany has said that lifting the sanctions would depend upon Russia complying to the agreements, which involve a ceasefire, and pulling weapons and pro-Russian forces out of the area.

Putin and Merkel will also discuss the fight against terrorism and the situation in the Middle East, the Kremlin said in a statement.

The two leaders and their governments stand on opposing sides of the Syrian war. Putin is the most powerful ally of embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Merkel has openly called for Assad's ouster.

Russia is widely criticised by the West for propping up Assad's regime with powerful airstrikes that have decimated swathes of the country, reported CNN.

The leaders will also discuss the current state and prospects of bilateral relations, including energy, trade, economic, cultural and humanitarian cooperation, the Kremlin said, and will exchange views on the forthcoming G20 Summit to be held in Hamburg in July.

The Russian President also plans to speak with his US counterpart Donald Trump before Merkel's arrival on Tuesday, a spokesman for Putin told state-run media TASS.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will also travel to Sochi to meet Putin on Wednesday.

--IANS

soni/dg