Merkel to host Putin for talks on Syria, Ukraine, energy

Merkel will host Putin at the government retreat Meseberg castle north of Berlin (AFP/Cristina Quicler)
Updated 13 August 2018
0

Merkel to host Putin for talks on Syria, Ukraine, energy

  • Putin and Merkel last met in May in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi
  • Merkel stayed away from Russia during this year's football World Cup

BERLIN: Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday to discuss the Syrian and Ukraine conflicts, energy issues and other foreign policy issues, Berlin announced.
Merkel will host Putin from 1600 GMT at the government retreat Meseberg castle north of Berlin, where they will only give media statements but not hold a joint press conference, said her spokesman Steffen Seibert.
The low-key meeting will focus on “the Syrian conflict, which has gone on far too long, the situation in eastern Ukraine and energy issues,” said Seibert at a press conference Monday.
Relations have been tense between Russia and Western powers, including Germany, over a range of issues, from the Ukraine and Syria conflicts to charges of Russian cyber-attacks and election meddling in several NATO member countries.
Putin and Merkel last met in May in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi, but the German leader stayed away from Russia during the football World Cup.
Merkel and her Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on July 24 held an unusual meeting in Berlin with Russia’s army chief of staff Valery Gerasimov and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, to discuss Syria and Ukraine.
French President Emmanuel Macron at the time also received Gerasimov, who is usually subject to an EU travel ban, and Lavrov.
Berlin has also hosted ministerial meetings on reviving the stalled Ukraine peace process and on resolving Russian-Ukrainian disputes on gas shipments as Moscow and Berlin plan a controversial new Baltic Sea pipeline project, Nordstream 2.


UK race to succeed Theresa May heats up with focus on Brexit

Updated 5 min 31 sec ago
0

UK race to succeed Theresa May heats up with focus on Brexit

  • Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Saturday he is seeking to replace May
  • The best-known contestant for the Conservative leadership post is former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson

LONDON: The race to succeed British Prime Minister Theresa May is heating up, the field of Conservative contenders is quickly growing and the focus is squarely on how to handle Brexit.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Saturday he is seeking to replace May, joining several others who have announced they will run to become the Conservative party’s next leader, and by default, Britain’s new prime minister.
May announced Friday she plans to step down as Conservative Party leader on June 7 and remain as a caretaker prime minister while the party chooses a new leader in a contest that officially kicks off the following week.
She plans to remain as party leader through US President Donald Trump’s upcoming state visit and the 75th D-Day anniversary celebrations on June 6.
Her successor will have to try to complete Brexit — a task that May failed to deliver during her three years in office. While she succeeded in striking a divorce deal with the European Union, the plan was defeated three times in Parliament by British lawmakers from across the political spectrum.
The EU extended Britain’s departure date to Oct. 31 but there still is no consensus among British lawmakers about how or even if the country should leave the bloc.
Even before a new leader is chosen, the Conservative Party is expected to fare poorly when the results of the European Parliament election in Britain are announced Sunday night.
The best-known contestant for the Conservative leadership post is former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who has said he will take Britain out of the EU on Oct. 31 even if no deal has been reached with EU leaders.
Johnson’s willingness to back a no-deal Brexit is already causing some ripples.
Another Conservative contender, International Development Secretary Rory Stewart, said Saturday that he could not serve in a Cabinet under Johnson if Johnson wins. Stewart says he could not work for a leader who is comfortable with the idea of a no-deal Brexit.
Stewart complained that Johnson said in a private meeting several weeks ago that he would not push for a no-deal departure but appears to have changed course completely.
Many economists and business leaders have warned that a no-deal departure would have a drastically negative impact on Britain’s economy and also hurt its European neighbors.
The field is likely to grow to about a dozen candidates, with a winner expected to be chosen by mid or late July. Senior Conservatives including Home Secretary Sajid Javid, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and former House of Commons leader Andrea Leadsom are among those considering a leadership run.
The Conservative Party chooses its leaders in a two-step process. First there’s a series of votes among the party’s legislators to establish two top contenders, then those names are submitted to a nationwide vote by about 120,000 party members.
The winner becomes party leader and prime minister, although the opposition Labour Party is warning of an immediate challenge to the new leader with an eye toward forcing an early general election.
John McDonnell, Labour’s economic spokesman, told the BBC on Saturday the party would push a no-confidence vote against the new prime minister right away.
“We believe any incoming prime minister in these circumstances should go to the country anyway and seek a mandate,” McDonnell said.
An earlier Labour Party attempt to force an early election failed in January when May’s government survived a no-confidence vote.
The UK’s next general election is set for 2022 unless there is a government collapse.