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    PUTIN TO MEET SCHROEDER TODAY

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    MOSCOW, APRIL 2, 2004, (RIA NOVOSTI) - President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation is to negotiate with Germany's Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder here today. Schroeder's brief working visit is timed to coincide with the beginning of the year of German culture in Russia.

    This will become the first meeting between Schroeder and Putin in 2004. Moreover, the German Chancellor will be the first foreign leader (except post-Soviet leaders) to negotiate with Putin after the latter's reelection March 14. (Vladimir Putin received his Ukrainian counterpart Leonid Kuchma in Novo-Ogarevo the third day after elections - Ed.) Talking to RIA NOVOSTI, a Kremlin source noted that both leaders will analyze the implementation of specific accords, which were reached within the framework of Russian-German inter-state consultations in Yekaterinburg in October 2003, also charting new priorities.

    On the whole, that positive Russian-German cooperation develops in every main direction, including the key, economic, aspect, the source added.

    Previously, the President of Russia replied to reporters' questions, noting that he and the German Chancellor will focus on economic aspects.

    Germany, which is our biggest European trade-and-economic partner, also serves as Russia's No 1 economic partner in general, Putin said. The volume of Russian-German economic ties exceeds that between Russia and the United States, totalling more than Euro 20 billion, Putin added. That's why regular talks with the German leadership are absolutely justified; both Russia and Germany need such talks, Putin went on to say.

    For his own part, the Kremlin source told RIA NOVOSTI that Germany remained Russia's leading foreign-trade partner, also leading the way in terms of investment, which had been accumulated by the Russian economy ($10.2 billion, or about 18 percent).

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