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Russian, German top diplomats to discuss situation in Ukraine, Syrian crisis on March 9

On March 8-9, Germany’s Foreign Minister Siegmar Gabriel will make a working visit to Moscow upon the invitation of Russia’s top diplomat Sergey Lavrov

MOSCOW, March 7. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his German counterpart Siegmar Gabriel will discuss the implementation of the Minsk agreements and the progress of the peace process in Syria at a meeting due to be held in Moscow on March 9, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

"On March 8-9, Germany’s Foreign Minister Siegmar Gabriel will make a working visit to Moscow upon the invitation of Russia’s top diplomat Sergey Lavrov," the statement reads. "The two ministers will hold talks on March 9, discussing the current state of Russian-German relations and practical issues related to bilateral agenda, including the implementation of specific trade, economic, cultural, humanitarian and memorial projects."

"The parties will also exchange views on key global issues, including the implementation of the Minsk agreements aimed at solving the Ukrainian crisis, the progress in the peace process in Syria, steps to facilitate the normalization of the situation in Libya, as well as issues concerning the European security and the fight against international terrorism," the statement adds. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, "interaction between Russia and Germany within G20 will also be discussed as Germany presides over the group this year."

Economic cooperation

The Russian Foreign Ministry said that "Russian-German trade turnover continues to decrease." "According to the Russian Federal Customs Service, in 2016, bilateral trade turnover reduced by 11.1% compared with 2015, falling to $40.7 bln. Russia’s exports to Germany declined by 16.1% to $21.3 bln while imports fell by 4.8% to $19.4 bln."

"At the same time, Germany remains one of our main trade partners," the foreign ministry added. "Germany has a share of 8.7% in Russia’s foreign trade (China is first with a share of 14.1%)."

The ministry also said that "according to the Russian Central Bank, Germany’s investment in the Russian economy exceeds $13 bln."

Around 5,600 enterprises with German capital are active in Russia, which have a total turnover of more than $50 bln and around 270,000 employees.

Bilateral years

"Inter-parliamentary, inter-agency and inter-regional ties have been rapidly developing," the Russian Foreign Ministry went on to say. On June 28-30, a Russian-German conference of sister cities is planned to be held in Russia’s city of Krasnodar.

"Cultural cooperation, youth exchanges and interaction between public organizations play an important role in bilateral cooperation," the ministry added. "The Russian-German Year of Youth Exchanges is worth mentioning, its closing ceremony due to be held in Berlin on July 13-16. New possibilities for bilateral years are under consideration."

Military cemeteries

The Russian Foreign Ministry pointed out that there were 3,310 Soviet military cemeteries in Germany, where 760,000 Soviet and Russian citizens had been buried. "Germany has been maintaining the cemeteries in accordance with bilateral intergovernmental agreement signed on December 16, 1992," the ministry’s statement adds.

On September 7, 2016, the Chapel of Peace was opened in Russia’s settlement of Rossoshki (the Volgograd region), where a large German military cemetery is located which dates back to World War II. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the inter-confessional Chapel of Peace project "is aimed at bringing the Russian and German peoples closer to each other and preserving the memory of the events and lessons of World War II."