Source AP ©

Putin wraps up visit to Austria by laying wreath to honor Russian war veterans

Russian President Vladimir Putin wrapped up a visit to Austria on Thursday by laying a wreath in honor of Russian war veterans.

Putin stopped briefly at the Red Army Monument in Vienna's downtown Schwarzenberg Square - a memorial erected in honor of the Russian soldiers who helped liberate Vienna at the end of World War II - before heading to Luxembourg.

On Wednesday, he met with Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer and President Heinz Fischer as Austrian and Russian companies signed contracts reportedly totaling more than euro3 billion (US$4 billion).

Putin stood firm in his country's opposition to a U.S. missile defense system to be set up in Poland and the Czech Republic, but played down an apparent chill in relations with the EU.

He acknowledged that Russia should listen to criticism from abroad but cautioned others not to patronize Moscow on human rights issues.

Fischer characterized his talks with Putin as "open, honest and fair."

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