Syria's Assad congratulates Putin
BERLIN / LONDON - Agence France-Presse
AP PhotoSyria's embattled President Bashar al-Assad today congratulated Vladimir Putin for his "remarkable" victory in the Russian presidential election, the Syrian state news agency reported.
"President Bashar al-Assad has sent a telegram to Russian premier Vladimir Putin for his victory in the presidential election," SANA said.
"He offered in his name and that of the Syrian people his sincere congratulations for his remarkable election," it added.
Russia is a staunch ally of the Assad regime which has been battling a year-long uprising that has left more than 7,500 people dead according to the United Nations.
Britain says Putin 'decisive' despite 'problems'
Vladimir Putin's victory in the Russian presidential election appears "decisive" despite reported irregularities, a spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron today.
Cameron was likely to call Putin later on Monday, the spokesman told reporters at a daily briefing, without specifying whether the British leader would congratulate Putin.
"It is clear that the election has delivered a decisive result," the spokesman said. "Even the NGO (non-governmental organization) polling data put Putin above the 50 percent needed to win in the first round." The spokesman noted that international observers led by the OSCE had identified that there were problems including "unequal campaign conditions" leading up to the election.
"It is right that these assessments have taken place. They have clearly identified some problems. We would like to see these issues addressed over time," the spokesman said.
The spokesman said that Britain wants a "constructive relationship with Russia" after years of tense ties.
When asked if Cameron would call to congratulate Putin, the spokesman said: "It is likely he will make the call later today. We will let you know if and when that happens."
Merkel to call Putin to wish him success in presidency
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was due to speak to Vladimir Putin to wish him success in his presidency of Russia following elections, her spokesman said earlier today.
Merkel was to speak to Putin "to wish him success in the coming time in office, success above all also in the implementation and managing of the big tasks" facing Russia, Steffen Seibert told a regular news briefing.
Germany and Russia are "strategic partners", Seibert added, saying that the partnership should be developed and that the German government would make every effort to do so.
"Many international problems can only be resolved together with Russia, the most pressing of these problems is Syria," Seibert said adding it was expected to feature in Merkel's conversation with Putin.
Berlin also called for the political and social modernisation of Russia, rather than just a purely economic and technical one, Seibert said welcoming the fact that so many Russians had been politically active in the run-up to Sunday's vote.
Putin secured almost 64 percent of the vote in the election, winning back the Russian presidency which he held for two terms from 2000-2008 before his four-year stint as prime minister.
He will formally take over as president after his inauguration in May.
Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said earlier Monday Germany wants to work with Putin constructively and to extend a strategic partnership.