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German vice chancellor heads to Russia for talks on energy, economic issues; to meet Putin


BERLIN — Germany's vice chancellor is heading to Russia for talks on energy and economic issues, and is expected to meet President Vladimir Putin.

The Economy Ministry said that Sigmar Gabriel — who is both Germany's economy minister and Chancellor Angela Merkel's deputy — is leaving on Wednesday for the two-day trip to Moscow.

It didn't elaborate on Gabriel's agenda or say who is expected to meet with him other than Putin. The ministry noted that trade between Germany and Russia has declined in part because of the falling price of commodities, which account for much of Germany's imports from Russia.

The 28-nation European Union has imposed sanctions against Russia over its role in the crisis in Ukraine.

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