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    Lavrov says Russia ready to rebuild relations with Britain

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    Russia is ready to wipe the slate clean in its relations with the United Kingdom, the foreign minister said on Friday.

    MOSCOW, October 16 (RIA Novosti) - Russia is ready to wipe the slate clean in its relations with the United Kingdom, the foreign minister said on Friday.

    Sergei Lavrov's comments came ahead of British Foreign Secretary David Miliband's trip to Moscow early next month, the first visit by a British top diplomat since 2004.

    "We are also ready to renew normal relations with Britain... On our part, everything is ready for a reset," Sergei Lavrov told reporters.

    "We have not frozen work to ease the visa regime with Britain, or cooperation between special services, and have not closed down any channels for cooperation," he said.

    The British Foreign Office earlier said that at meetings with top Russian officials, Miliband would discuss key international issues, including Iran's nuclear program and the war in Afghanistan.

    "The Foreign Secretary welcomes this opportunity to continue to engage with Russia on the major global challenges we all face, in which Russia plays a key role," a Foreign Office spokesman said earlier.

    "He expects to meet a range of politicians, business leaders and representatives of civil society."

    British-Russian relations have been continually 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 key disputes have included Russian authorities' pressure on the British Council, Britain's refusal to extradite Russian fugitives, and Britain's criticism over Russia's conflict with Georgia in August 2008.

    Lavrov's interview with RIA Novosti, the Russia Today TV channel and the Voice of Russia radio station will be broadcast on Friday evening.

     

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