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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Putin Voices Hopes for Merkel

Itar-TassPutin meeting with Kohl at Novo-Ogaryovo outside Moscow on Thursday.
President Vladimir Putin on Thursday played host to former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and voiced hope for the further development of strong ties under new Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"I would like to congratulate you on the fact that a representative of the party you were heading for so long will lead the government," Putin told Kohl at the start of their meeting at the Russian president's Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow.

Kohl wanted to welcome Easterners after the 1990 unification of Germany, and Merkel not only won a Christian Democratic nomination for parliament but was also named to Kohl's government as women's minister before the end of her first year in politics.

Putin, who has cultivated close personal ties with former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, also met with Merkel during a visit to Germany just before the election.

He told Kohl that he "noted with satisfaction that she stands for the continuation of the strategic character of relations between Germany and Russia."

Schröder pursued close political and business ties with Putin's Russia, earning accusations of ignoring human rights concerns.

"I hope we will preserve the positive potential that has been accumulated over the past years," Putin said, noting that Kohl had started an ongoing tradition of high-level discussions between Berlin and Moscow in 1998.

"Russia is Germany's most important neighbor in the East, and it will remain so," Kohl said.

He hailed friendly ties between the two nations.

"No matter who leads the government, the most important thing is that the relations between our people have improved," he said.

"Remembering the immense suffering inflicted on your nation by Hitler's Germany and seeing how we are building our relations today, I can assure you that the government, the president and the people of Germany are striving for the development of bilateral relations."

Kohl was in town after speaking earlier this week at the International Leadership Summit, a gathering of businessmen. Nine prominent political and business speakers, including former U.S. President Bill Clinton via video link, shared their experiences during the two-day event, which ended Wednesday.

Schröder flew to St. Petersburg last Friday for a two-day, private visit with Putin that coincided with the Russian president's 53th birthday. Merkel was named chancellor on Monday.