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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Germany: No Quick Debt Deal

BERLIN -- Germany and Russia are keen to resolve the lingering problem of Russian debt, but the two sides are far from reaching a deal, Germany's junior finance minister told a newspaper on Monday.

"Our positions are far apart. The negotiations will be difficult," Finance Ministry State Secretary Caio Koch-Weser told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. "Both sides want to solve the problem as quickly as possible, but I don't want to raise any exaggerated hope that it can happen very soon."

Germany is still waiting for payment of the Soviet-era debt to East Germany it assumed after reunification in 1990.

Moscow owed communist East Germany 6.4 billion transferable rubles in trade debts, the sum denominated in an artificial currency used for payments between Soviet bloc countries.

The sticking point is the appropriate exchange rate. Berlin's basic premise has been that 6.4 billion transfer rubles were worth $6.4 billion.

Russia was to have come forward with a concrete proposal in June, but Koch-Weser, who met his Russian counterpart last week, said it would not now do so for another one or two weeks.

A working group charged with deciding an exchange rate for the transfer rubles, which met last Tuesday, will reconvene in November or December.

The two countries have been working on ways to settle some of the debt by providing Germany, Moscow's main trade partner and creditor, with investment openings in Russia.