MESEBERG, Germany - Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met outside Berlin on Saturday for talks ranging from the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, to Iran and a gas pipeline project that has drawn USA ire.
Putin dropped in on Karin Kneissl's wedding in a remote area of southern Austria, on his way to a meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel in neighboring Germany later that day.
Russian President Vladimir Putin danced arm in arm with Austria's Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl at her wedding today, after receiving an invitation that opposition critics said undermined the West's stance against Moscow.
Putin warmly greeted the bride, giving her a handsome bouquet of yellow and white flowers, according to Russian state news agency Tass.
Mr Putin was showing support for Ms Kneissl, an independent politician who was proposed for the role by the pro-Russia Austrian Freedom Party, whose leaders were also at the nuptials.
Joerg Leichtfried of the opposition Social Democrats said Kneissl's decision to invite Putin was especially lamentable given that Austria now holds the rotating presidency of the European Union. Austria now holds the European Union's rotating presidency.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agencies that Moscow rejected the criticism regarding Putin's presence at the wedding.
"We need to strengthen the humanitarian effort in the Syrian conflict", he said ahead of a meeting with his German counterpart Angela Merkel at the government retreat of Meseberg castle north of Berlin.
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Strache, who joined Austria's governing coalition past year, praised Kneissl on Saturday as a "bridge builder" as he congratulated the married couple and wished them "all the luck in the world and eternal love!"
The United States is pressing Berlin to halt the pipeline that will carry gas from Russian Federation under the Baltic Sea, arguing it will increase Germany's dependence on Russian Federation for energy.
President Trump has warned it would make Germany dependant on Russian gas.
The Russian president is also set for informal talks with the German chancellor on Saturday about a number of issues.
He said Syria needed assistance to rebuild and to ensure that refugees who had fled the country could safely return to their homes.
Germany is seeking a political solution on Syria that would create conditions for refugees to return, though "we're still a long way away from that", Seibert said on Wednesday. "These are the most basic things in which I think everyone is interested, including Europe".
Putin's remark, made before his first bilateral meeting with Merkel in Germany since 2013, hinted at the tension between the two leaders even as President Donald Trump's disruption of the global order pushes them into alliances of convenience after years of antagonism.