Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met outside Berlin yesterday for talks ranging from the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, to Iran and a gas pipeline project that has drawn US ire. Standing beside Putin, Merkel said both countries – but especially Russia as a permanent member of the UN Security Council – had a responsibility to tackle these problems. She said she planned to raise human rights issues with Putin, and discuss bilateral relations, strained since Russia’s annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine in 2014. Both leaders raised concerns about Syria and the plight of the many refugees created by the seven-year-old war there. Putin told newsmen that everything must be done to help Syrian refugees to return to their country and that Syria needed assistance to rebuild.