Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold talks with German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in Berlin on September 8 just days before a general election in Germany, Schröder's spokesman said on Friday. Bela Anda said the two leaders, who are close friends, would discuss "economic ties, especially cooperation in the energy field, but will also talk about international issues." The
Financial Times Deutschland on Friday reported that a contract for the construction of the so-called Ost-See gas pipeline was expected to be signed during the visit. The pipeline is a joint project between Germany's Eon Ruhrgas and Russia's Gasprom to feed Russian gas directly to Germany through the Baltic Sea from 2010. The project is controversial in Poland and the Ukraine because they stand to loose transfer fees. Schröder faces an uphill battle to hold on to his post in early elections on September 18, with polls indicating he is likely to be unseated by conservative opposition leader Angela Merkel.