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    Merkel to congratulate Putin, discuss ‘challenges’ in ties: spokesman

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel will congratulate Vladimir Putin on his re-election as Russia’s president, in a message that will also raise “challenges” in their relations, her spokesman said.
    “I cannot pre-empt the content of the congratulatory message, but I believe that the message will also mention the challenges in Germany and Russia’s relations,” Steffen Seibert, Merkel’s spokesman, told reporters.
    Berlin and Moscow have “differences in opinion” on issues ranging from Russian politics to the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, said Seibert.
    “Nevertheless, the continuous contact with Russia’s leadership is very important to us,” he stressed.

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