Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met outside Berlin on Saturday (August 18) for talks ranging from the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, to Iran and the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project that has drawn U.S. anger.
Merkel said she planned to raise human rights issues with Putin, and discuss bilateral relations between Germany and Russia, which have been strained since Russia's annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine in 2014.
On Ukraine, the Chancellor said she hoped that fresh efforts could be undertaken at the beginning of the new school year to disentangle Ukrainian military forces and separatists at the line of conflict in the Donbass region.
On the planned Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, she said Ukraine should continue to have a role in gas transit to Europe, and welcomed the start of discussions between the European Union, Ukraine and Russia on that issue.
Both leaders raised concerns about Syria and the plight of the many refugees displaced by seven years of war.
Merkel said it was important to avert a humanitarian crisis in Idlib and the surrounding region, and said she and Putin had already discussed the issue of constitutional reforms and possible elections when they last met in Sochi in May.
Putin told reporters that everything must be done to help Syrian refugees to return to their country and that Syria needed assistance to rebuild.
The two leaders took no questions.