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German automaker Mercedes opens new Russia factory

Russian President Vladimir Putin signs a car hood during an opening ceremony of the Mercedes Benz automobile assembly plant outside Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, April 3, 2019, with Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG Dieter Zetsche, background centre, and German economics ministers Peter Altmaier, next right to Putin. Germany’s Daimler AG has opened a new Mercedes factory in Russia, part of a 250 million euro ($281 million) investment it says will create 1,000 jobs. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, Pool)

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s Daimler AG has opened a new Mercedes factory in Russia, part of a 250 million euro ($281 million) investment it says will create 1,000 jobs.

CEO Dieter Zetsche said Wednesday the Moscow-area plant will produce Mercedes sedans and SUVs for the local market, and is part of a strategy to move production closer to customers.

The opening was attended by German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier, who also was meeting President Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials on a two-day visit. Ministry spokeswoman Annika Einhorn said the trip aimed to address “opportunities and challenges for German business in Russia.”

Germany’s government stressed the visit didn’t signal a return to business as usual. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said Germany’s position on sanctions imposed over Russia’s actions in Ukraine hasn’t changed.

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