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Putin to discuss prospects for Russian-EU relations with Luxembourg’s prime minister

October 06, 2015, 0:38 updated at: October 06, 2015, 3:18 UTC+3 SOCHI

Xavier Bettel will pay a working visit to Russia on the invitation of the Russian leader

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Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin

© Alexei Nikolsky/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS

SOCHI, October 6. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold a meeting with Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel in Sochi, the Kremlin press service said on Tuesday.

"During talks, relevant issues of bilateral and international agenda will be discussed, as well as prospects for relations between Russia and EU in the framework of Luxembourg’s presidency of the Council of the European Union," the press service said.

Bettel will pay a working visit to Russia on the invitation of the Russian leader. This is his second visit to Russia and fist in the capacity of Luxembourg’s prime minister. At a meeting with Russian Prime Minister in Sochi on Monday, Bettel, a great-grandnephew on the mother’s side of famous Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff, noted "a personal reason" of his visit: "I am very glad to visit the country whose blood is running in my veins."

He also said it was a great honor to see Sochi "which the Grand Duke of Luxembourg visited during the Olympic Games."

Luxembourg presides in the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2015 in the framework of traditional rotation.

In July, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressed hope that during its presidency "Luxembourg will contribute to improving the situation in EU and overcoming the decline in dialogue between Russia and the European Union."

Luxembourg’s prime minister said at the end of August that EU and Russia need "a strategy out of the crisis" around Ukraine. According to Bettel, "Europe loses, Russia loses, Ukraine loses" in the current circumstances, while "series of sanctions and reciprocal measures are harmful for everyone."

According to the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the volume of bilateral trade between Russia and Luxembourg reached 139.5 million euros in 2014. By June 2015, the number stood at 50 million euros. Russian oil and gas are absent from bilateral trade, as the Grand Duchy imports fuels mostly from Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Germany.

At the same time, Luxembourg is third after Cyprus and the Netherlands among Russia’s largest foreign investors, with around 37 billion euros invested in the country’s economy. Russian investment in Luxembourg’s economy stand at around 6 billion euros.

Luxembourg’s prime minister to discuss situation in Syria with Putin

Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel has said that unilateral military operations carried out by different countries in Syria only hamper the resolution of the conflict in general.

Bettel told the Kommersant daily that he intends to discuss this topic with Russian President Vladimir Putin. "In this situation, every individual decision only hampers the adoption of a unanimous coordinated solution. We can only develop a unified strategy at the negotiations table. That is what I intend to discuss with Vladimir Putin," the prime minister said.

He noted that in order to find a swift resolution of the problem, negotiations should include all sides of the conflict in Syria.

Bettel did not rule out holding talks with Syrian President Bashar Assad stressing that negotiations are only impermissible with terrorists.

Luxembourg’s prime minister said he hopes that free democracy will be established in Syria in the future. "In order to hold election, peace is needed first of all. And Syria today is a coutry engulfed by war," he noted.

Russia launches airstrikes in Syria

Last week, Russian Federation Council unanimously granted permission to the Russian president to use the nation’s military force in Syria. "The Federation Council unanimously supported the president’s request - 162 votes in favor [of granting permission]," Kremlin chief of staff Sergey Ivanov said. Russia will use only its Air Force in Syria against Islamic State (IS) and other terrorist groups upon the request of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Ivanov said, stressing that no ground troops will be sent.

Russian Aerospace Defense Forces started delivering targeted strikes against IS facilities on Wednesday, September 30. Modernized Su-24M and Su-25 fighter jets are deployed in the aviation unit of Russia’s Aerospace Defense Forces formed in Syria, Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov told journalists on Thursday. He stressed that all strikes were made after air reconnaissance and update of data obtained from the Syrian army headquarters. Aircraft armaments were not used to hit civil infrastructure facilities or areas near them.

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