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German chancellor says will hold tough talks with Russian president

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she will have tough talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on different issues but that she did not expect her meeting to produce any particular results.

“We want good relations with Russia and part of this is of course my meeting tomorrow. It’s a work meeting from which no specific results are expected,” Merkel said on Friday.

She added, “But the number of problems that occupy us – from Ukraine and Syria to the issue of economic cooperation – is so big that it is justified to be in a permanent dialogue.”

The German chancellor is expected to host the Russian president from 1600 GMT at the government retreat in Meseberg castle north of Berlin, where the two sides plan to only give media statements with no joint press conference.

Merkel pointed to “controversial issues” in her Saturday talks with Putin and said, “There will of course be points where we are thinking about how we can promote and improve bilateral and international cooperation.”

Russia and Western powers have been experiencing increasingly tense relations over a number of issues, including the Ukrainian conflict, Russia’s support for Syria, cyber attacks and election meddling in NATO member states.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in April expressed support for a series of missile strikes by the US and its Western allies on Syria, a move harshly criticized by Russia, but he warned that the West is going too far in its alienation of Moscow.

“The galloping alienation between Russia and the West must also concern us, with consequences that will go far beyond this case. There is practically no basis of trust anymore,” said Steinmeier in an interview, adding, “We are at the next step of escalation in the Russian-American relationship.”

The German president, who served for two times as the country’s foreign minister, said it was wrong to introduce Russia and its people as an enemy of Germany, saying the two countries had a rich history of cooperation on key international issues.

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