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Russian, British foreign ministers to discuss bilateral ties

© RIA NovostiDavid Miliband and Sergei Lavrov
David Miliband and Sergei Lavrov - Sputnik International
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David Miliband is starting a two-day visit to Russia on Sunday, which will be the first visit to the country by a British foreign secretary in the past five years.

LONDON, November 1 (RIA Novosti) - David Miliband is starting a two-day visit to Russia on Sunday, which will be the first visit to the country by a British foreign secretary in the past five years.

Miliband will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, politicians, businessmen and civil society representatives.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Thursday the visit could foster better ties between Moscow and London, but experts have said it will bring no breakthroughs regarding key differences between the countries, however noting that Miliband's arrival means the two states no longer want to focus on differences alone.

Russian ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko on Thursday described Britain as a key partner in politics and business and one of the major investors in the Russian economy.

In an interview with The Financial Times published on Wednesday, Miliband said he did not expect "to resolve the key problems in the U.K.'s bilateral relationship with Russia."

British-Russian relations have been consistently frosty since the diplomatic fallout following the death of Russian security defector Alexander Litvinenko in London three years ago. Russia refused to extradite a key suspect in the murder, leading to tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats.

Other disputes have included Russian authorities' pressure on the British Council, Britain's refusal to extradite fugitive Russian businessmen, and Britain's criticism over Russia's conflict with Georgia in August 2008.

"We're not changing those," Miliband told the FT.

However, speaking of Lavrov, he said: "I think we're going to have substantive discussion. We're going to talk substantively about Afghanistan, substantively about Iran, substantively about the Middle East."

The Russian foreign minister said earlier Russia was ready to renew normal relations with Britain. "On our part, everything is ready for a reset," Lavrov told reporters.

 

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