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Expert comments on Merkel-Putin talks' possible agenda

Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are expected to meet in Berlin on August 18

MOSCOW, August 13. /TASS/. It is not ruled out that Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who are expected to meet in Berlin on August 18, will look at joint actions to bypass the United States’ extraterritorial sanctions, in particular, those imposed on Iran, a Russian expert told TASS on Monday.

"The agenda will be much wider: not only the Nord Stream-2 project, but also the United States’ extraterritorial sanctions," said Vladislav Belov, deputy director of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Europe.

"Washington’s restrictions impact not only this gas pipeline project, but also interests of Russian and European companies in the context of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear program following the United States’ withdrawal," he said. "The sanctions are impacting not only Nord Stream-2 but also other areas of our cooperation [with Germany]. So, the two leaders may discuss possible joint coordinated actions. A number of big companies, which are forced to leave Iran, participate in Nord Stream-2."

According to the expert, the two leaders are likely to raise the issue of the return of Syrian refugees. Apart from that, in his words, a focus may be made on the prospects for cooperation between Russia, Germany, France and the European Union to restore infrastructure in territories controlled by the Syrian government, and on humanitarian projects.

As for the situation in eastern Ukraine, both Russia and Germany stay committed to the Normandy format (involving Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine) of settlement talks, despite the gaps in their positions, Belov noted. "I think Putin and Merkel will discuss possible actions within the Normandy Four format, which has been frozen as a matter of fact due to Kiev’s non-constructive position," he said, adding that another topic at the Berlin talks will be possible deployment of a UN peacekeeping mission in Donbass and its role in overcoming the protracted political crisis in Ukraine.

The German government spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said earlier on Monday that the topics to be discussed by Putin and Merkel in Berlin will include the Syrian settlement, the situation in eastern Ukraine and energy cooperation, including the situation around the Nord Stream-2 project.