Medvedev, Merkel talk economy, human rights

By : Denis Dyomkin
Date posted :2009-08-14 12:03:00

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Germany and Russia should work closer together to beat the downturn, Russia's president told his German counterpart Friday at the start of talks which will focus on the economy but also touch on human rights.

President Dmitry Medvedev welcomed German Chancellor Angela Merkel to his official vacation residence at the Black Sea resort of Sochi for their third meeting this year, in a gesture that showed close ties between Berlin and Moscow.

"We shall think how by strengthening our bilateral economic strategic ties we could help our economies and people overcome the consequences of this heavy crisis and come out of it even stronger," Medvedev told Merkel.

A senior Russian official told reporters ahead of the talks that the leaders would discuss a bid by Canadian carmaker Magna and Russia's Sberbank to buy a stake in Opel, the European unit of General Motors, and a number of other investment projects.

Trade between Russia and Germany, Russia's biggest trading partner in Europe, reached a record $67.2 billion in 2008. That figure has been cut by more than half in the first five months of 2009, the official said, without giving a precise number.

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