04:23 GMT +316 July 2018
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    German flags wave in front of the Reichstag building, host of the German Federal Parliament Bundestag, in Berlin, Germany. (File)

    Germany Views Russia as a 'Partner' Despite Diplomats' Expulsion

    © AP Photo / Michael Sohn
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    Although German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas positively assessed the decision of European countries to expel Russian diplomats, he still expressed hope that Moscow and Berlin will remain partners.

    The expulsion of Russian diplomats from Germany should be taken merely as a sign of solidarity with the UK and other EU member states, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said.

    "The unity of Europeans in their policy toward Russia was important as […] a sign of unity," the diplomat told German newspaper Bild.

    At the same time, Maas expressed confidence that Russia remains an important partner for the EU, particularly in conflict resolution and ensuring global peace.

    "We are open to dialogue and we expect that confidence will be gradually restored if Russia is ready for it," the German FM said.

    Over 25 countries, including the US, Canada, Germany and other EU states have recently expelled Russian diplomats as a sign of solidarity with the UK, citing allegations of Moscow's involvement in the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in the town of Salisbury on March 4.

    READ MORE: Kremlin Disagrees With US Claims That Russia is Waging 'Diplomatic War'

    Skripal, a former Russian spy who then worked for UK intelligence, and his daughter Yulia, have been hospitalized since early March following exposure to what British experts say is an A-234 nerve agent. UK Prime Minister Theresa May, without citing specific evidence, accused Russia of orchestrating the attack and subsequently expelled 23 Russian diplomats. The European Union has expressed its agreement with the UK moves.

    Russia strongly rejected the accusations and has offered to assist in the investigation. Moscow's request for samples of the chemical substance used to poison the Skripals has nonetheless been rejected, leading to suspicions that UK accusations are not backed up by the evidence. In response, Moscow expelled UK diplomats and ordered the British Council to cease its activities in Russia.


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