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Merkel, Putin Talk Syria, Ukraine On Sidelines Of G20 Summit

German Chancellor Angela Merkel talks to Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) as G20 leaders and their spouses walk for a group picture prior to a banquet at the G20 summit in Hangzhou, China, on September 4.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel had a face-to-face meeting for nearly two hours late on September 4 on the sidelines of the G20 summit in China.

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said the two leaders discussed the Syrian conflict, especially the "catastrophic" humanitarian situation in Aleppo, which is under siege by Syrian government forces.

Seibert said Putin and Merkel also spoke "very concretely" about the conflict in Ukraine and how to implement the Minsk agreement, a cease-fire and peace plan aimed at resolving the war in eastern Ukraine.

It was the first meeting between Merkel and Putin in several months. Relations have been strained since Russia's forcible annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014.

A peace deal co-signed by France and Germany in February 2015 in Minsk was meant to end the fighting. But the more than two-year-old war has now killed more than 9,500 people as the sides trade blame for violating the truce.

Based on reporting by dpa and Reuters