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Russia: Putin Seeking Economic Help From Germany

Berlin, 15 June 2000 (RFE/RL) - Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Berlin today for meetings expected to focus on improving relations and getting support for Russia's economy. Both Russian and German officials say ties soured when Moscow defaulted on its debt in 1998. The action especially hurt Germany, to which Russia owes about half of its $33 billion in foreign credits. Putin is expected to ask for a reduction in the credits. But officials in Berlin have ruled out any reduction and say they will only be willing to reschedule some payments.

Foreign policy disputes over Yugoslavia, NATO expansion and Russia's war in Chechnya also have strained ties. Putin is due to have talks today with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and to meet leading opposition politicians. He also will address German business leaders on Russia's planned economic reforms.

Putin also will meet German President Johannes Rau, and former Chancellor Helmut Kohl. Putin flies to Moldova tomorrow.