In Moscow, Merkel is due to have talks with President Vladimir Putin. German officials said Merkel will try to persuade Putin to join the EU and the United States in moves to refer Iran to the UN Security Council over its controversial nuclear program.
Merkel is also expected to discuss with Putin the "strategic partnership" between Germany and Russia, as well as Russian natural gas supplies to the EU.
German officials said Merkel is also expected to raise the situation in Chechnya and other human rights issues.
Merkel is scheduled to spend just under six hours in Moscow. Her talks with Putin will be followed by a meeting with representatives of religious, social and business groups as well as leaders of human rights organizations.
(Reuters, dpa, AP)