Merkel says don't expect much from meeting with Putin

A Sukhoi Su-24

Before the meeting, Merkel said she would discuss the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, as well as Iran and the Nord Stream 2 gas-pipeline project with Putin during their meeting on August 18.

Putin was one of around 100 guests at Kneissl's wedding to businessman Wolfgang Meilinger in the picturesque village of Gamlitz in southeastern Austria. But she was appointed to her job by the far-right Freedom Party (FPO) which has a cooperation agreement with Putin's United Russia party.

Kneissl is being criticised on social media for inviting Putin to her wedding as it raises questions on Austria's role as a "neutral intermediary" in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, where Russia-backed rebels are battling government forces. Austria now holds the European Union's rotating presidency.

Mr Putin gave the newlyweds a cold press oil machine, a traditional Russian samovar and a landscape painting that "depicts the place where the groom hails from", according to Mr Peskov.

SPOe MEP Evelyn Regner said the invite sent a "shameful" image of Austria to its EU partners, branding it "a provocation of European proportions".

Merkel said that the common problems to these countries justify the permanent bilateral dialogue, while referring to the meeting she will hold with the Russian leader at the government residence in Meseberg, north of this capital.

Putin told reporters that such a move had to make sense for Moscow from a business perspective.

Senior Chinese delegates to visit United States for trade war talks
Treasury officials declined to comment on the talks, referring Reuters to Kudlow's remarks on CNBC. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He held talks with US Commerce Minister Wilbur Ross in Beijing in June.

A spokesman for Merkel said this week that the European Union was still in talks with Russian Federation to ensure that Ukraine continues to play a role in the lucrative energy transit business even after Nord Stream 2 is completed.

'Nord Steam 2 is purely an economic project and it doesn't close the door to shipping gas through Ukraine, ' President Putin said. Transit fees for Russian gas are an important item contributing to the Ukrainian budget.

Putin also spoke about global reconstruction efforts and the humanitarian situation in Syria.

The New York Times reported that Putin asked Merkel for help in rebuilding Syria's infrastructure, so refugees could return home. I think it's in everyone's interests, including Europe's, ' he said.

Merkel has encountered political pressure at home for opening Germany's borders to hundreds of thousands of refugees in 2015.

Stefan Meister, a Russian Federation expert at the German Council on Foreign Relations, said that there is "an increased interest on both sides to talk about topics of common interest" and that, in part because of Trump, the two sides have shifted focus from earlier meetings that focused on Russia's conflict with Ukraine.

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