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Germany's Steinmeier says visit to Volgograd may help Russia, West overcome differences

May 07, 2015, 13:15 UTC+3 BERLIN
"This is a chance to gain understanding and work together to peacefully overcome differences," Steinmeier said
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German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier

© EPA/KOCA SULEJMANOVIC

BERLIN, May 7. /TASS/. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Thursday his visit to the Russian city of Volgograd - formerly known as Stalingrad - to commemorate the end of World War Two could give Moscow and the West a chance to overcome differences.

"This is a chance to gain understanding and work together to peacefully overcome differences," Steinmeier said in Berlin before leaving for Russia.

"We want to focus these days on the things connecting us and not the things dividing us," he said, adding that despite strained ties with Moscow over the Ukraine crisis, it was important for him together with his Russian counterpart to commemorate the victims of World War Two.

Volgograd, known as Stalingrad from 1925 to 1961, witnessed one of the bloodiest battles of all time, which turned the tide of World War Two.

Steinmeier said he believed Volgograd was the right place for commemorations as it more than any other city represented "the bitter fight against Nazi Germany and confrontation of unimaginable cruelty."

Steinmeier and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov are expected to visit the Mamayev Kurgan dominant height overlooking the city. They will lay wreaths at the Monument to Stalingrad Battle heroes on the Mamayev Kurgan height. The two foreign ministers will then visit the war memorial in the village of Rossoshki devoted to Soviet soldiers who died in the Stalingrad Battle and the burial place of German soldiers located nearby.

As part of the visit, Lavrov and Steinmeier will also attend an international music festival, Music of the World Against War, to hear Shostakovich's Seventh Symphony, performed by symphony orchestras from Russia’s Volgograd and Germany’s Osnabruck.

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