Merkel set to visit Russia in early May

Indo Asian News Service

Moscow, March 17 (IANS) German Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to visit Russia on May 2, the Russian President said.

Vladimir Putin on Thursday revealed the scheduled date for Angela Merkel's visit during a meeting with the Prime Minister of Bavaria Horst Seehofer.

Putin told Seehofer to pass on his regards to Merkel and added that he was looking forward to her visit on May 2.

The Kremlin had already announced that the German chancellor was due to visit, but had not mentioned the date.

It is to be the German leader's first visit since 2015, when she attended a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

Relations between Russia and the West were at a low point recently following a slew of accusations lodged against Moscow for its alleged interference in European and American elections.

Tensions were exacerbated by the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine for which European leaders hold Russia partly responsible.

Russia has denied the veracity of both claims.

During his last visit to Russia, on March 9, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, told his counterpart Sergey Lavrov that he was concerned about the possibility of a new arms race.

He also expressed his worry over the increasingly militarized border between Russia and the Baltic States -- Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia -- all of which are NATO members.