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Harper meets with Merkel; Ukraine crisis the key item on their agenda

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has wrapped up a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in which they discussed the crisis in eastern Europe.

While the two leaders touched on the Canadian-German trade relationship, their talks focused on the ominous events playing out in Ukraine.

Harper says Russian President Vladimir Putin doesn’t want to be a partner to his fellow industrialized nations, he wants to be a rival.

Therefore, Harper says, he can’t see a way for Putin to return to the G8 without a fundamental change in his course.

Russia was effectively booted from the G8 earlier this week over the annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula following a pro-Western uprising.

Harper has been warning that Putin has a Cold War mentality.

Merkel was asked if Germany is interested in using Canadian energy to end its dependency on Russian natural gas.

She said as Europe looks to diversify, Canada lacks the infrastructure to get its energy overseas. That means Canadian energy imports are a long-term project for Germany.

An hour earlier, Merkel welcomed the prime minister to the Chancellery in Berlin. The two most senior leaders in the G7 have a close relationship and kissed each other’s cheeks upon meeting.

On a cool, sunny, spring morning, Merkel and Harper then stood on a raised dais in an outdoor courtyard and listened to a military band play both national anthems. They chatted amiably before strolling into the building.

The prime minister delivered a solemn warning to Germans about Russia on Wednesday in Munich, reminding a business audience of the dangers posed by a leader with a Cold War attitude who has brazenly seized territory from a weaker neighbour.

He said Europe must not regress to become a place where powerful nations invade their weaker neighbours.

A senior European diplomat suggested Wednesday that Harper’s comments about Putin are accurate.

The Russian president has never accepted the disintegration of the former Soviet bloc and views the uprising as “the second time Russia lost Ukraine,” the official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.