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Merkel congratulates Putin, urges dialogue to address ‘challenges’


German Chancellor Angela Merkel./ AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZ

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday congratulated Vladimir Putin on his re-election as Russia’s president, while stressing the need for continued dialogue to address key “challenges”.

“I warmly congratulate you on your re-election,” Merkel wrote in a message to the veteran Russian leader released by her office.

“Today it is more important than ever to continue the dialogue with each other and to advance the relations between our countries and our people,” she said.

“We should therefore strive to constructively address important bilateral and international challenges and find viable solutions.”

Merkel’s message came as Western leaders were slow to congratulate Putin’s landslide win in Sunday’s election at a time of growing tensions with Moscow.

Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said earlier that Berlin and Moscow have “differences in opinion” on issues ranging from Russian politics to the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

“Nevertheless, the continuous contact with Russia’s leadership is very important to us,” he said.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas was more critical, saying Russia would remain a “difficult partner.”

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