Putin keen to stay in touch with Merkel on Ukraine: Kremlin spokesman

Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to carry on the frequent "tough but constructive" contacts he has had with Chancellor Angela Merkel on the Ukraine crisis, his spokesman has told German TV. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP
Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to carry on the frequent "tough but constructive" contacts he has had with Chancellor Angela Merkel on the Ukraine crisis, his spokesman has told German TV. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

BERLIN (AFP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to carry on the frequent "tough but constructive" contacts he has had with Chancellor Angela Merkel on the Ukraine crisis, his spokesman has told German TV.

Dmitry Peskov told ZDF television that the telephone talks between Putin and Merkel were worth their "weight in gold", according to excerpts released ahead of broadcast on "Berlin Direkt" later Sunday.

The two leaders have spoken by phone at least seven times since the start of the year.

"That is worth its weight in gold in these heightened situations," the Kremlin spokesman said, even if it is "no secret" that their positions on the Ukraine crisis differ on many points.

"But the dialogue per se is extraordinarily useful and we hope that it is continued," he said.

Meanwhile, a German-Russian forum bringing together representatives from civil society, the Petersburg Dialogue, will go ahead as planned in April in Leipzig, even though parallel government consultations have been called off, co-chairman Lothar de Maiziere told ZDF.

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