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Putin To Attend Austrian Minister's Wedding This Week

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) and Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl take part in a wreath laying ceremony at the Soviet World War II memorial in Vienna on June 5.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will be a guest at this week's wedding of Austria's top diplomat, the Kremlin has confirmed.

Putin, who is set to visit Berlin on August 18 for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, will make a stopover in Austria to attend Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl's wedding, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on August 15.

It will mark a rare case when the Russian leader attends a private event at the invitation of a foreign official.

The Austrian Foreign Ministry declined to comment on Putin's visit.

Kneissl, 53, will reportedly marry businessman Wolfgang Meilinger at a vineyard in Austria's Styria state.

Russian media quoted Yury Ushakov, Putin's senior foreign-policy aide, as saying that Kneissl invited Putin to her wedding when he visited Vienna in June.

Kneissl, an independent, was picked for the foreign-minister job by the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), a coalition partner in Austria's government.

The FPOe, which has advocated lifting EU sanctions against Moscow, has ties with Russia's ruling United Russia party.

The European Union, the United States, and other countries imposed sanctions against Russia over its 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine who are fighting government forces.

Austria was one of the few EU member states not to expel Russian diplomats following the poisoning of a former Russian double agent and his daughter in Britain in March.

Based on reporting by AFP, AP, Reuters, and dpa