Germany's Merkel to meet Putin on Mideast issues

Chancellor Angela Merkel heads for Russia on Sunday for talks with President Vladimir Putin that come amid a push to reinvigorate the Mideast peace process and questions of Europe's dependence on Russian natural gas and oil. Merkel spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said before the trip that the Mideast peace process would be a major topic of the talks with Putin. "The situation in the Middle East and the revival of the Quartet will certainly be an important topic," Wilhelm said. The one-day trip comes after calls last week by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to "re-energize" the involvement of the "Quartet" of the EU, Russia, the UN and the US in Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts. Germany currently holds the EU's rotating presidency.