Putin calls on Europe to rebuild Syria so that refugees can return

Germany Calls for Boosting Relations with Russia

The two leaders took no questions.

"It is certainly a geopolitical project aimed to weaken Ukraine".

The United States and some European countries have criticized the pipeline, saying it could increase Europe's energy dependence on Russian Federation, harm Ukraine - now a major gas transit country - and pose an environmental risk.

"Together with German partners we are working on the new natural gas pipeline Nord Stream 2, which will complete the European gas transport system, minimize the transit risks, and secure the growing consumption in Europe", a joint press statement from Putin said ahead of the meeting.

They're also pushing ahead with the Nord Stream 2 natural-gas pipeline from Russian Federation to Germany over USA objections.

The Minsk agreements are September 2014 and February 2015 pacts aimed at resolving the conflict in eastern Ukraine, where Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting Kyiv government forces in a war that has killed more than 10,300 people since 2014.

For her part, Merkel said it was first of all to avert humanitarian crisis in Idlib, Syria and the surrounding region, and said she and Putin had already discussed the issue of constitutional reforms and possible elections when they last met in Sochi.

"We must acknowledge that we do not have a permanent ceasefire", the chancellor said.




Russian Federation has shut off gas supplies to Ukraine in the past, having knock-on effects in the European Union.

Putin and Merkel discussed the idea of a meeting on Syria involving the leaders of France and Turkey as well as Russian Federation and Germany, according to Peskov.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday called on Europe to contribute financially to the reconstruction of Syria to allow millions of refugees to return home. "These are the most basic things in which I think everyone is interested, including Europe".

Photographs showed Ms Kneissl, 53, smiling in a long white and cream dirndl dress and talking to Mr Putin as they danced in a vineyard in the southern Styria province, the venue of her wedding to entrepreneur Wolfgang Meilinger.

Joerg Leichtfried from the opposition Social Democrats tweeted that Austria's current presidency of the Council of the European Union put it in an especially delicate spot given tensions between Putin and the West.

Members of the country's Green Party are among those calling for the foreign minister to resign over Mr Putin's invitation.

Austrian Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, the leader of Kneissl's far-fright Freedom Party (FPO), praised the foreign minister as a "bridge builder".

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