Putin: Former German leader Helmut Kohl molded his worldview

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Russian President Vladimir Putin says former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl played a key role forming his outlook on the world.

Meetings with Kohl "to a significant degree changed my own views," Putin told reporters Saturday, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Putin said his first contact with Kohl, who died Friday at age 87, was when he worked for St. Petersburg Mayor Anatoly Sobchak in the early 1990s and Kohl invited Sobchak to visit his residence in the German city of Bonn.

The two men also met privately after Kohl stepped down as chancellor in 1998.

Putin said "we met more than once in different circumstances but our first meeting left a very strong impression on me." He offered his condolences to Kohl's family and friends and to the German people."