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Merkel Confronts Putin Over NGO Crackdown and Gay Rights Abuses in Chechnya

The leaders of Russia and Germany showed body language suggesting tensions: their facial expressions as they spoke to reporters were stern, and the two barely looked at each other

Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel attend a joint news conference following their talks at the Bocharov Ruchei state residence in Sochi, Russia, May 2, 2017.
REUTERS/Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, on a rare visit to Russia, said that Berlin and Moscow had to keep talking despite their disagreements, but those same differences overshadowed her talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.

At a news conference following a meeting in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi, diverging positions were aired over Syria, Ukraine, Russian respect for civil rights, and allegations Moscow is interfering in other countries' elections.

Their body language suggested tensions: their facial expressions as they spoke to reporters were stern, and the two leaders barely looked at each other.

Germany's Merkel confronts Russia's Putin over NGO crackdown and gay rights abuses in Chechnya Haaretz

Merkel was making her first bilateral visit to Russia since Moscow annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in 2014, a move that set off the worst confrontation between Moscow and the West since the Cold War.