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Germany

Putin to Bring Chechen Leader to Germany

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives in Germany on Sunday to visit his friend and ally, German Chancellor
Gerhard Schröder, accompanied by the pro-Moscow president of Chechnya, Alu Alkhanov. "I am looking forward to our meeting in Hanover which will undoubtedly lead to the further development of the Russian-German partnership," Putin told Schröder by telephone this week. Putin and Schröder will open the Hanover Fair, one of the biggest trade fairs in the world which this year includes representatives from 6,090 companies from 65 countries with Russia as the guest of honor. Alkhanov will use the trip to meet representatives of German humanitarian organizations about what they can do towards rebuilding war-shattered Chechnya within the framework of EU reconstruction efforts. The idea of involving the German humanitarian organizations was raised during Putin's visit to Germany in December. The European Union's executive commission announced on Thursday it was giving 22.5 million euros ($29.1 million) in aid to victims of the conflict in Chechnya where separatists and Islamic militants have been fighting pro-Russian forces in Chechnya for more than five years. The funds, the first to be made available this year, come on top of 148 million euros already handed out by Brussels' humanitarian aid agency Echo since the beginning of the conflict in 1999. Schröder maintains a close friendship with Putin, and recently underlined the importance of ensuring Russia is involved in Europe's planning. "Without a genuine strategic partnership with Russia, there will not be peace and sustainable economic development for us Europeans," the chancellor said. Putin will conclude his visit on Monday. (AFP)