Merkel-Medvedev talks to focus on investment, Opel

Thu Aug 13, 2009 5:58pm EDT
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By Denis Dyomkin

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Boosting Russian-German trade at a time of global crisis will be on the agenda when Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and German Chancellor Angela Merkel meet on Friday, a Kremlin source said.

A bid by Canadian automaker Magna and Russia's Sberbank to buy a stake in Opel, the European unit of General Motors, is the most pressing matter for the two nations.

Medvedev has invited Merkel to his official vacation residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi for their third meeting this year in a gesture showing close political and economic ties between Berlin and Moscow.

"In Sochi, the leaders will discuss details of joint steps to stimulate the diversification of trade and economic ties to make them more stable and resistant to the fluctuations of global markets," a senior Kremlin official told reporters.

"Promoting existing high-tech investment projects and starting new ones is an important part of these efforts," he added.

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 Kremlin official said, without giving the precise number.

Russian leaders have said the global crisis provided a good opportunity to review the structure of bilateral trade and economic cooperation.

Merkel has backed the Magna-Sberbank bid for Opel over a competing offer from Belgian private equity firm RHJ International.   Continued...