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Germany's Steinmeier: Relations with Russia too important, countries must find bond

Germany's Steinmeier: Relations with Russia too important, countries must find bond
Frank-Walter Steinmeier has met with President Vladimir Putin during his first visit to Russia as Germany's president. Having pointed out the historical ties between the two nations, Steinmeier said he considers improving relations with Moscow as his personal obligation to the European people.

Russia and Germany "are connected by over a thousand years of collective history," the German politician told journalists in Moscow after talks with the Russian president. Steinmeier pointed out that history could not be viewed in black-or-white categories, and that he sees it as "very important" to establish dialogue with Moscow, in contrast to the cooling of relations over the past years.

The German president said he would "personally contribute" to such a process. "We live in Europe together and it's our duty to our people to always keep looking for a bond despite existing disagreements," he said, adding: "These relations are too important to leave them without a dialogue."

Steinmeier said the current leadership cannot cancel the past, calling on the governments and people of Germany and Russia to restore relations of trust and "find a way out of the negative spiral."

"I think we all find the current state of affairs unsatisfying," he added. There are "open sores and unsolved issues" to work on, the German president said, referring to the  situation in south-eastern Ukraine in particular.

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The Ukrainian conflict was on the agenda of the two leaders during their Moscow talks, Putin told the media at the joint news conference. He praised Steinmeier's efforts to contribute to the resolution of the issue as Germany's foreign minister. The Russian leader added that he hoped the German president’s proposals would be applied in further joint efforts concerning the Ukrainian conflict.

President Putin described the talks as “constructive.” Fighting terrorism in Syria, as well as tensions on the Korean Peninsula and the issues around Iran were also discussed, he said.

"We've acknowledged that despite known political difficulties, Russian-German relations are not at a halt and we are ready to cooperate on their further development," Putin said.