Putin to visit Merkel for Syria talks

German Chancellor to host Russian President in attempt to discuss Syria, Ukraine conflicts.

BERLIN - Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday to discuss the Syrian and Ukraine conflicts, energy issues and other foreign policy issues, Berlin announced.

Merkel will host Putin from 1600 GMT at the government retreat Meseberg castle north of Berlin, where they will only give media statements but not hold a joint press conference, said her spokesman Steffen Seibert.

The low-key meeting will focus on "the Syrian conflict, which has gone on far too long, the situation in eastern Ukraine and energy issues", said Seibert at a press conference Monday.

Relations have been tense between Russia and Western powers, including Germany, over a range of issues, from the Ukraine and Syria conflicts to charges of Russian cyber-attacks and election meddling in several NATO member countries.

Putin and Merkel last met in May in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi, but the German leader stayed away from Russia during the football World Cup.

Merkel and her Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on July 24 held an unusual meeting in Berlin with Russia's army chief of staff Valery Gerasimov and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, to discuss Syria and Ukraine.

French President Emmanuel Macron at the time also received Gerasimov, who is usually subject to an EU travel ban, and Lavrov.

Berlin has also hosted ministerial meetings on reviving the stalled Ukraine peace process and on resolving Russian-Ukrainian disputes on gas shipments as Moscow and Berlin plan a controversial new Baltic Sea pipeline project, Nordstream 2.