Beginning of the Meeting with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier 2006-12-21 23:49:19 The Kremlin, Moscow President Vladimir Putin: Dear Mr Minister! Dear colleagues! First of all I would like to welcome you to Moscow. I know that you and Mr Lavrov [the Russian Foreign Minister] held quite detailed talks on intergovernmental relations and, of course, various issues on the international agenda. First and foremost I would like to point out that we are satisfied with how the agreements that we reached with Madam Chancellor in Tomsk and in Dresden are being implemented. In 2006 our volume of trade rose by 30 percent and significantly exceeds thirty billion USD. Our political contacts are increasing. Direct contacts between the citizens of our countries are growing. We continue to cooperate very actively in the international arena. And we are very glad to see you, Mr Minister, and your colleagues in Moscow. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier: Dear Mr President. I would like to thank you warmly for the friendly, pre-Christmas welcome here in Moscow and also for the opportunity to meet with you personally. During the discussion this morning with my colleague, with the Russian Foreign Minister, we were not able to finish all the themes in the allocated time. But we were able to discuss a number of international crises – the ones that we were able to resolve and those that we will still need to work on next year. I came to Moscow today first and foremost to take up the G8 baton from you. And we recognize that the themes we discussed this morning – the situation surrounding Iran, in the Middle East – will remain on the G8 agenda. In ten days Germany will assume the EU presidency. Another reason for my visit is to explain the main topics on the agenda for the next six months. I am ready to give the corresponding information and will do so with pleasure. Vladimir Putin: You mentioned that Christmas and New Year are fast upon us. It is with all my heart that I would like to wish all our German colleagues a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Frank-Walter Steinmeier: Thank you for your good wishes and I would like to pass on warm wishes from the Federal Chancellor. And she has asked me to give you an invitation to come to Germany.