From: Reuters
Published March 4, 2008 06:27 AM

Merkel to visit Medvedev and Putin on Saturday

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel will travel to Moscow on Saturday to hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and meet his successor Dmitry Medvedev.

The German government confirmed the trip in a statement on Tuesday, saying Putin had invited Merkel for a "working visit."

"The German chancellor will also meet with Russian president-elect Dmitry Medvedev," the statement read.

Merkel, who learned to speak Russian during her youth in communist East Germany, came into office vowing a more critical approach towards Moscow than her predecessor Gerhard Schroeder.

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She has had an up-and-down relationship with Putin, openly condemning his crackdowns on anti-Kremlin activists but also working as a mediator between Moscow and Washington to calm tensions between the former Cold War antagonists.

On Monday, she congratulated Medvedev on his victory in Sunday's Russian presidential election and promised to support him in his efforts to modernize the country.

"Be assured that Germany will remain a reliable partner and will do its utmost to develop bilateral ties in all areas," Merkel wrote to Medvedev in a letter that was made available to news organizations.

(Writing by Noah Barkin; Editing by Alastair Sharp)

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