Merkel, Putin to meet for Ukraine, Syria talks

May 2 (UPI) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday to discuss Ukraine and Syria, the Kremlin said.

The one-day discussion at Putin’s summer residence in Sochi comes as relations between the two countries remain slowed by Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and Germany’s leadership role in organizing European Union economic sanctions in response. Merkel also seeks an end to the Ukraine conflict and a peace deal in Syria, each requiring the cooperation of Russia, and the sanctions will only be lifted with German support.

Merkel and Putin last met in November in Berlin at a summit on Ukraine, which also included French President Francois Hollande and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. While a protocol for ending the crisis in Ukraine was agreed to, differing views of each country’s role has prompted no action thus far.

The meeting’s official purpose is planning for the July meeting in Hamburg of the G20, the only forum for Putin to engage in a summit of world leaders since Russia was excluded from the G8, now the G7, because of action in Crimea. However, accusations that Russia is involved in cyberattacks on Germany’s state computer systems, and German suspicion that Russian-linked hackers are behind an attack on Merkel’s Christian Democratic Party, are likely topics for discussion.

There will be two rounds of talks on Tuesday, German government spokesman Steffan Siebert said. It is Merkel’s first visit to Russia in two years.

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