Gerhard Schroeder paid his first visit to Russia as the German Chancellor on November 25, 1998 and held several meetings with President Boris Yeltsin. But they got acquainted earlier, in 1988 when Yeltsin was the first secretary of the Moscow city CPSU committee and Schroeder was the leader of the land organisation of the Lower Saxony social democrats. On June 8-9, 1998 Boris Yeltsin paid an official visit to Germany during which the first Russian-German inter-governmental consultations in an extended format took place with the participation of heads of ministries and departments of both countries. On June 15-16, 2000 President Vladimir Putin visited Germany to hold bilateral consultations on a summit level. The settlement of the Russian debt to Germany was the main economic issue at the consultations, and in the military sphere the sides discussed the Russian initiative on creating the European ABM system. An agreement was reached on establishing direct communication between the Kremlin and the federal chancellor department. On September 2000, shortly before the tenth anniversary of Germany's unification, Schroeder visited Moscow to develop personal contacts with Putin. The chancellor said that the main reason for his visit to Moscow was to demonstrate that in the political aspect Russia can rely on Germany's support for its reforms. On January 6-7, 2001, an unofficial Russian visit of Schroeder and his family for participation in celebrating the Orthodox Christmas took place. The chancellor met with Putin unofficially near Moscow. They discussed questions pertaining to European security and the Russian debt to Germany.
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