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Jun 16, 7:52 AM EDT

Merkel: US must not link Russia sanctions, economy interests

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BERLIN (AP) -- Angela Merkel's spokesman says the German chancellor believes it would be wrong for the United States to link sanctions against Russia with efforts to promote American economic interests.

The U.S. Senate voted Wednesday to impose new sanctions on Russia over its alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. election campaign and its aggression in Syria and Ukraine. The legislation now moves to the House of Representatives.

Germany's foreign minister, Sigmar Gabriel, on Thursday sharply criticized a provision that could see the sanctions affect European businesses involved in importing Russian natural gas. It explicitly cites the need to promote U.S. energy exports.

Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said Friday that the chancellor shares Gabriel's concerns and called the Senate decision "outlandish, to put it carefully."

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