January 6, 2020 / 10:24 AM / 17 days ago

Putin invites Merkel to Russia to discuss Middle East crisis

FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel shake hands during a meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka, western Japan, Saturday, June 29, 2019. Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool via REUTERS

MOSCOW/BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel will travel to Russia on Jan. 11 for talks with President Vladimir Putin on the crisis triggered by the killing of top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. air strike, the Kremlin press service said.

Merkel will make the trip on the invitation of Putin and they will also discuss the situation in Syria, Libya and Ukraine, it said.

Merkel’s spokesman said German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas would accompany her on the trip.

Soleimani, viewed as the second most powerful man in Iran, was killed at Baghdad airport last Friday by a U.S. drone.

The attack has taken long-simmering U.S.-Iranian hostilities into uncharted waters and stoked concerns about a major conflagration..

Reporting by Andrey Kuzmin in Moscow, Michelle Martin in Berlin; Editing by Gareth Jones

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