BERLIN (AP) — A landmark exhibition of German art in Russia has sparked a row between Berlin and Moscow and overshadowed a meeting of the two country's leaders.

The show at St. Petersburg's Hermitage museum is the first time in decades that several important pieces of art looted from Germany by Soviet soldiers were to be shown publicly.

German government spokesman Georg Streiter said Chancellor Angela Merkel had planned to use her speech at the opening of the exhibition Friday to call for the return of the art in accordance with international law.

Streiter says Russia canceled the opening speeches by Merkel and its president, Vladimir Putin, citing lack of time.