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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 February, 2004, 14:13 GMT
Germany starts Kaliningrad link
Joschka Fischer
Joschka Fischer said it was an important move
Germany has established its first diplomatic mission in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad - once part of the German kingdom of Prussia.

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said having a German consul-general's office in the area was a sign of the confidence shared by Berlin and Moscow.

He is due to meet President Vladimir Putin later on Thursday.

Soviet forces captured Kaliningrad, then called Konigsberg, at the end of the World War II.

It is sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania, and cut off from the rest of Russia - but it is strategically important for its access to the Baltic Sea.

Mr Fischer also took the opportunity to lay a wreath at the tomb of local philosopher Immanuel Kant on the 200th anniversary of his death.

Moscow talks

Germany is one of Russia's largest trading partners in Europe, with a trade turnover of $25bn (19.5 billion euros; 13.2bn) for 2003, according to the Russian foreign ministry.

A ministry spokesman said: "During talks in Moscow, a lot of attention will be devoted to strengthening the UN's role in Iraq, the situation in the Middle East, in Afghanistan and other problematic areas, the battle against international terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction."

Germany's first consul-general for Kaliningrad will be Cornelius Sommer, who previously served as ambassador to Finland.

The German government is still looking for a site for a consulate.

Kaliningrad caught in no-man's land
03 Jul 03  |  Business
Kaliningrad faces visa demand
01 Jul 03  |  Europe

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