Vladimir Putin dances with Austria's pro-Moscow foreign minister at her wedding

Angela Merkel at a refugee camp in Berlin. The row over immigration almost tore the government apart this summer

Angela Merkel at a refugee camp in Berlin. The row over immigration almost tore the government apart this summer

Austrian authorities have imposed tight security measures around the site of the ceremony near the southern town of Graz for Karin Kneissl, who was nominated by the pro-Russia Austrian Freedom Party.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) congratulates Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl as he attends her wedding with Austrian businessman Wolfgang Meilinger in Gamlitz, southern Austria, on Saturday.

His meeting with Merkel takes place at the German government's guesthouse in Meseberg, north of Berlin.

Photos showed Putin dancing with the bride, who was dressed in traditional Austrian costume. Putin was pictured listening to her intently.

There have been no reports that Kneissl - a polyglot Middle East expert without political affiliation - has a particularly close friendship with Putin.

The Freedom Party signed a cooperation pact with Mr Putin's United Russia Party two years ago.

FPO leader and Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache has expressed support for Russian Federation and called for sanctions against Moscow to be lifted.

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Austria has long maintained closer ties to Russian Federation than the rest of the European Union has. Kurz also attended the wedding.

Yet the foreign ministry has insisted that Putin's visit "will not change anything in terms of Austria's foreign policy positions".

The worldwide coverage of the visit would bring priceless publicity, he said, adding: "A better advertisement for Austria, its wonderful nature, dreamlike landscape and real life hospitality can not exist!" "A better advertisement for Austria, its wonderful nature, dreamlike landscape and real life hospitality can not exist!"

"How is Austria's presidency of the European Union meant to live up to the government's own claims of building bridges [between the EU and Russia] and being an honest broker, when Austria's foreign minister and chancellor are so obviously on one side?" said MP Andreas Schieder of the opposition Social Democrats (SPÖ).

"All the more symbolic and harmful to court the Russian president in this manner", he said.

Putin attended the wedding before heading off to Berlin for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel later on Saturday.

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