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Putin Says Merkel Expected To Visit Russia On May 2

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Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel speak in China in September

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel speak in China in September

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to visit Russia on May 2.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and the premier of the German state of Bavaria, Horst Seehofer, announced the visit in comments in Moscow on March 16, where Seehofer was on a three-day visit.

"Give my best wishes to the federal chancellor. We are awaiting a visit from Mrs. Merkel on May 2," Putin said during a meeting with the premier of the German state of Bavaria, Horst Seehofer, on March 16.

Seehofer, who is on a three-day visit to Moscow, announced to reporters earlier on March 16 that the German and Russian leaders would meet on May 2.

Russia's ties with Germany and other Western countries have been badly strained in the three years since Russia seized control of the Crimean Peninsula and fomented separatism in eastern Ukraine, where Kyiv and NATO say it has given direct military aid to separatist fighters in their war against government forces.

Merkel and French President Francois Hollande helped broker a much-violated February 2015 cease-fire and peace deal for eastern Ukraine known as Minsk II.

The visit comes ahead of a September election in which Merkel's party faces a challenge in seeking to retain power.

Some German officials fear that Russia is seeking to undermine Merkel, who has criticized the Kremlin's actions in Ukraine and Syria, ahead of the vote.

Merkel said last year that cyberattacks and a misinformation campaign during the election were "possible."

Merkel is due to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington on March 17.

Western media have cited U.S. officials as saying Trump will ask Merkel for advice on how to deal with Putin and Russia, which U.S. intelligence agencies allege used hacking and other methods to interfere in the U.S. election.

"The president will be very interested in hearing the chancellor’s views on her experience interacting with Putin," Reuters quoted a U.S. official as saying on condition of anonymity in a March 10 report. "He's going to be very interested in hearing her insights on what it’s like to deal with the Russians."

Trump and Putin spoke by phone in late January, shortly after Trump's inauguration, but Russia and the United States say no date has been set for a face-to-face meeting.

They are both expected to attend a G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7-8.

Based on reporting by Interfax, Reuters, and AFP
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