4 Jun 2018 16:39

Putin to discuss Ukraine, Syria, relations with EU during Austria visit on June 5 - Kremlin aide

MOSCOW. June 4 (Interfax) - Russian President Vladimir Putin will discuss the situation in Ukraine, the settlement process in Syria, and Russia's relations with the European Union in light of Austria's upcoming presidency of the EU during his visit to Vienna on June 5, Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov said.

The program of Putin's visit includes negotiations with Austrian Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and a conversation with Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen, Ushakov said.

Putin has never met with Van der Bellen before, and these will be their first negotiations, he said.

"Austria is among our closest partners not only in the economic but also in the political field. Starting July 1, Austria will hold presidency of the European Union governing bodies for half a year, and we are interested in negotiations [with the Austrian leadership] from this perspective as well," Ushakov said.

Among the international issues that Putin plans to discuss in Vienna are Ukraine and Syria. "All these matters are close to Sebastian Kurz, as he has served as foreign minister," Ushakov said.

Putin's visit to Vienna will begin with a conversation with Van der Bellen first in a narrow format and then at a breakfast involving delegations from the two countries, Ushakov said. Following this, Putin's negotiations with the Austrian chancellor are planned in a narrow and a broad format, after which the two countries will sign a number of joint documents.

While in Austria, Putin also plans to lay a wreath to a monument to Soviet soldiers who died in liberating Vienna in 1945 and to participate, together with Kurz, in a meeting with Russian and Austrian business leaders, to which about 100 major business people investing in Russia's and Austria's economies have been invited. As well as Putin's visit to Austria itself, the business forum will be focused on the 50th anniversary of the start of natural gas exports from the Soviet Union to Austria.

In conclusion of the visit, the Russian president will see an exhibition arranged along with the State Hermitage Museum at Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Art History).

Russian-Austrian economic ties have seen a growth trend, with their trade having grown by 40.5% to $4.1 billion in 2017 and continuing to grow.