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Germany's leader has urged world powers at the G-7 summit to send a "united signal" that economic sanctions on Russia would only be lifted if a peace agreement is implemented in Ukraine.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday that the economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the West following Moscow’s annexation of Crimea last year were not the end goal.
She told NBC News’ German partner ZDF at the summit that the sanctions "can be dispensed with when the conditions under which they were introduced are no longer there and the problems are resolved."
Merkel said: "We have a chance if everyone makes an effort — that is to some extent in Russia's hands and of course in Ukraine's." She also called for the group to send a "united signal" to Moscow.
More than 6,400 people have died in the conflict between Ukrainian government forces and rebels in the east who are loyal to Russia. The U.S. and its Western allies allege that Russia has been sending troops and weapons into its former Soviet neighbor to aid the separatists, a charge Moscow denies.
The G-7 was known as the G-8 and included Russia until the annexation of Crimea in March 2014. It now comprises the U.S., Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Japan.
Merkel's comments came as Obama drank beer — non-alcoholic, according to ZDF — and made jokes about lederhosen during an address to an 800-strong crowd in the nearby town of Kruen.
He said the relationship between the U.S. and Germany was "one of the strongest alliances the world has ever known." He added that standing up to Russian "aggression" in Ukraine was among the "difficult challenges" that would be discussed by the G-7 leaders.
Obama's relationship with Berlin ran into trouble last year following allegations the U.S. spied on its ally. According to Dr. Henning Riecke, of the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin, smoothing over those tensions between the U.S. and Germany was among the most "pressing transatlantic topics."