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Merkel, Putin revive dialogue after Trump scraps Iran deal

AFP  |  Berlin 

Russian hosts German on Friday to discuss the explosive global issues of Iran, and amid a deepening US-European crisis of confidence.

This year's first face-to-face talks between the veteran leaders, who speak each others' languages, comes as European powers are scrambling to preserve the deal which US abandoned last week.

For Merkel, the main objective in the resort of Sochi will be to seek pragmatic dialogue with Putin, despite their yawning political differences, in the quest to preserve the landmark 2015 agreement.

to save the accord under which pledged not to build a nuclear bomb in return for relief from punishing sanctions.

While Trump has threatened to punish allies which continue to do business with the Islamic republic, has demanded European guarantees to respect the pact and warned it could revive its atomic programme, sparking fears of more turmoil in the conflict-torn region.

Iranian Mohammad Javad Zarif, on a whirlwind global diplomatic tour, Tuesday welcomed as "a good start" talks with his French, British and German counterparts in but insisted on continued economic benefits for Iran.

Putin -- a key as an ally of Iran, with which it militarily backs in Syria's bloody conflict -- is also due to meet French President in late May.

After years of a deepening East-West rift sometimes labelled a new Cold War, Merkel recently repeated her warning that can no longer rely on its traditional bedrock NATO ally the to "protect" it.

German commented that "a rapprochement between and could be an unexpected consequence of Trump's decision to abandon the nuclear deal with Iran".

Merkel's challenge will be how to move forward without yielding to on a range of divisive issues -- from Russia's role in to Iran's ballistic missile programme to sanctions imposed against over the conflict.

Western powers have also accused of a poison attack on Russian double agent in Britain and of destabilising cyber attacks and disinformation campaigns, claims which denies.

Also looming over the talks is the festering conflict between Ukraine's and pro-Russian rebels which has seen barely a day without armed clashes since the 2015 peace accords brokered by and

This week starkly recalled Russia's 2014 annexation of the Crimea when Putin, who was re-elected for a fourth Kremlin term in March, personally drove a truck over a new 19 kilometre bridge linking the peninsula with the Russian mainland.

has said Putin will urge a four-way meeting with Merkel, Macron and Ukrainian President to revive talks on a possible UN peacekeeping mission along the battlefront.

"We'll see what arrangements will be found, it's hard to predict," said Russian Grigory Karasin, tempering expectations.

Despite all the problems, and Russia see eye to eye on one issue that troubles other EU nations and has sparked angry protests from Trump -- the construction of a new pipeline to export Russian gas to the biggest EU economy.

Russian has welcomed the "continued support of for the construction of 2", which is due to come into service in 2019.

Several EU countries, most vocally Poland, have protested the project for aiding a big neighbour they see as a strategic threat.

has urged Moscow to give assurances that it will preserve Ukrainian interests and not deprive it of

A final irritant has emerged as Russia readies to host the World Cup, where the German national side will seek to defend their world title.

this week protested Moscow's denial of a visa to a German who was a driving force in uncovering the Russian state-sponsored doping scandal.

Moscow relented, but also warned that its prosecutors would seek the for questioning if he enters Russian soil.

Germany has so far not confirmed whether it will send representatives to the international football tournament.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, May 16 2018. 19:35 IST