Chancellor Merkel (right) with Putin at an EU gathering in Finland in October (ITAR-TASS)
January 9, 2007 -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel said today she will visit Russia on January 21 for talks with President Vladimir Putin about relations with the EU.
The announcement of Merkel's planned visit comes amid an energy row between Russia and Belarus that resulted in a suspension of Russian oil supplies to Europe.
Speaking after talks with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso in Berlin today, Merkel said the halt in oil supplies underlined the need to guarantee European energy security.
"First, naturally, considering the current situation, we have spoken about it, that this interruption of energy again has shown how important the issue of energy security is," Merkel said. "We have the same view, the commission president and I, that we have done the right thing to discuss the issue of energy security again and again."
Separately in an interview today, Merkel said Germany must find ways to cut its dependence on a single source of oil and natural gas.
She suggested one possible way to achieve that was to rethink Germany's plans to phase out its nuclear power plants by 2020.