Russia expects better ties with BritainJuly 2nd, 2008 - 9:24 pm ICT by IANS
Moscow, July 2 (RIA Novosti) Russia hopes Britain would show willingness to improve bilateral ties during the G8 summit starting Monday in Japan, a source in the Russian foreign ministry said Wednesday. Leaders from the Group of Eight (G8) countries will meet for three days in Hokkaido in northern Japan, for talks focusing on climate change, sustainable energy, food security and African development.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is due to hold a bilateral meeting with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on the sidelines of the summit.
“We hope Britain will signal its willingness to improve relations with Russia,” the diplomat told the press.
Relations between London and Moscow have deteriorated since the dispute over Russian businessman and MP Andrei Lugovoi, whom the British police suspect of involvement in the killing of defector Alexander Litvinenko.
The two countries engaged in tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats after Russia refused to extradite Lugovoi citing its constitution. The Russian authorities have also closed two British Council offices.
Nonetheless, Russia and Britain are seeing their bilateral trade rise, and Britain was the leading foreign investor in the Russian economy last year.
Also ahead of the forum, Russia warned Japanese public and political institutions against raising the Kuril Islands issue.
The South Kuril Islands, known in Japan as the Northern Territories, were annexed by the Soviet Union after World War II and the dispute has prevented the two countries from signing a peace deal.
“Japan’s public organisations have raised the problem of what they call Northern Territories in the run-up to the summit, with the tacit support of the authorities,” a Russian foreign ministry official told reporters Wednesday.
“We believe this is politically incorrect, especially since Japan is the host country for the summit,” he said. “Bilateral problems are not in the traditions of the summit.”