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    Energy cooperation and investment projects are set to dominate talks between Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in south Russia's Sochi on Friday.

    SOCHI, August 14 (RIA Novosti) - Energy cooperation and investment projects are set to dominate talks between Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in south Russia's Sochi on Friday.

    The informal summit in the host city for the 2014 Winter Olympics will be the third meeting between the two leaders this year, and follows on from their July 16 meeting in Munich.

    Medvedev and Merkel are likely to discuss in depth Canadian automaker Magna's bid, backed by Russia's Sberbank, to purchase a stake in Opel, the European unit of General Motors. Magna's main rival is Belgium-based investor RHJ International, but Merkel stated on Tuesday that she would be prepared to intervene personally in favor of the Canadian company.

    "I have a clear preference for Magna and want to make that clear again," Merkel told RTL television. "If it is necessary, I will join in of course."

    A Kremlin source told RIA Novosti that the two leaders were likely to "consider terms on which a deal advantageous for both Russia and Germany's economic and social spheres can be concluded."

    Another key point at the talks is certain to be the Nord Stream gas project.

    The $6 billion-euro pipeline being built jointly by Russia and Germany under the Baltic Sea is designed to eventually pump 55 billion cu m of Siberian gas per year to Western Europe, bypassing traditional transit nations.

    However, some European states have expressed concern over a growing energy reliance on Russia, which meets a quarter of the continent' gas needs. Calls for diversified supplies intensified following a bitter price dispute between Moscow and Kiev in early 2009, when Russia cut off gas to Ukraine, affecting consumers across Europe.

    Germany is Russia's biggest European trading partner, and trade between the two countries hit a record $67.2 billion in 2008 before slumping after the onset of the global economic crisis.

    As well as energy and investment, Merkel is also likely to discus with Medvedev the recent murders of a number of human rights activists in Russia.

    The head of an organization working to help children in Chechnya was found shot dead along with her husband in the republic earlier this week. The deaths follow the killing of Memorial activist Natalya Estemirova, who was abducted and murdered in similar circumstances in Chechnya last month. January 2009 saw rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova gunned down in broad daylight in central Moscow. No arrests have been made in any of the cases.

     

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