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Does Modi do yoga? asks Russian President Vladimir Putin

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By Hardev Sanotra

St Petersburg: “Does Modi do yoga?” That was the question posed by Russian President Vladimir Putin when he was told that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had started a Ministry of Yoga.

He was incredulous that a ministry of yoga (it is called Ministry of Ayush, an abbreviation for departments dealing with Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy incorporating indigenous and alternative systems of healing) could be set up, and then smilingly asked why anyone would do that. He wondered if the man who wants to spread yoga practises it himself. He was told that it was likely, though he had not publicly said so.

“He is a good man, and a personal friend,” Putin said in reply to questions from  reporters from around the world who met him at the end of the second day of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum here.

In response to a question by IANS, that he and Modi were both being seen as “tough leaders”, Putin said it was not true. “I am not tough. I am always willing to compromise.”

“They say they have two opinions. One that they are right. And the second that I am wrong,” Putin said at his official residence here which encompasses the Boris Yeltsin Digital Library. Putin is from St Petersburg.

The interaction with Putin ended at around 2 a.m. with him saying that often his meetings stretched to the wee hours of the night. He said he had to meet so many people, and often many of them would go into lengthy explanation about their issues that he found it difficult to interrupt. (IANS)

(Hardev Sanotra is in Russia at the invitation of St Petersburg International Economic Forum 2015. He can be contacted at hardev.sanotra@ians.in)

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Merkel Told Putin, US Complicated Middle East Situation

"But if you want to solve problems, you have to talk to each other," Merkel was quoted as saying.

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in a bid to inform Merkel's and Macron's respective meetings with US President Donald Trump in Washington this week, German federal government spokesperson Steffen Seibert said Sunday, reported Xinhua news agency.
Angela Merkel, wikimedia commons

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has told Russian President Vladimir Putin that the Middle East situation had been complicated by the US’ withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

According to a statement issued by the German government, Merkel made the remarks on Friday during her meeting with Putin in Russia’s Black Sea city of Sochi, Xinhua news agency reported.

Merkel told Putin that Germany, like the rest of Europe, did not want to leave the agreement and wanted to continue to support it. With regard to the Iranian nuclear programme, the agreement gives “more security, more control and, above all, more transparency”.

But there are also topics “that have to be talked about with Iran”, Merkel said, referring to the concerns of the Iranian ballistic missile program, and the question of how to proceed after the expiration of each element of the nuclear agreement.

Merkel
Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, wikimedia commons

Merkel stressed after her talks with Putin how important it was to have an open exchange of ideas, especially if the two countries have different views, adding that the German-Russian cooperation had endured serious differences.

“But if you want to solve problems, you have to talk to each other,” Merkel was quoted as saying.

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With regard to the situation in Ukraine, Merkel said the Minsk accord was the “only basis” to achieve peace in east Ukraine, and agreed with Putin that it was important to station a UN peacekeeping troop in the area.

With regard to Syria, Merkel said that Germany would continue to support UN’s mediation efforts with full force, saying it was important the already-agreed upon process of constitutional reform really got going. (IANS)

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