GERMAN CHANCELLOR ARRIVES IN MOSCOW

A two-day private visit by German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to Moscow begins today. It "will be the last stage in the preparations for the new large-scale Russian-German consultations" to be held in St. Petersburg in April, a source in the Kremlin said as quoted by RIA Novosti Friday. According to the source, despite the unofficial nature of Schroeder's visit, the talks of both leaders "will not be held at the level of the exchange of tourist impressions and the discussion of cuisine recipes." According to the source, the parties will discuss, in particular, repayment of Russia’s debts. The Russian and German sides have agreed on the debt redemption through investment projects. It is not ruled out that both leaders will specify the areas, in which investment projects will be carried out. Messrs. Putin and Schroeder will also touch upon some international issues, in particular, cooperation between Russia and the European Union, the functioning of the OSCE, the situation in Kosovo and Montenegro, and the Middle East developments. In the context of the Russia-EU discussion, as the source said, the leaders of Russia and Germany will possibly discuss Moscow's proposal to the European Union to join the efforts for the creation of an all-European strategic security system as an alternative to the US plans for its national ABM defence. Speaking about the OSCE's activities, the source said that "the narrowing of the area of the OSCE's functioning" did not suit Russia. Thus, according to the source, this organisation forgets about the issues linked with measures to ensure the rights of Russian citizens in the Baltics, including the problem of judicial persecution of anti-fascists there. According to the source, the president of Russia and the German chancellor "will discuss in a preliminary manner" the arrangements for the G-8 summit scheduled to take place in Italy this year.”