Russian diplomat calls for normalising ties with Britain

November 15th, 2008 - 5:04 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Nov 15 (RIA Novosti) Russia and Britain should resume regular intergovernmental contacts to normalise thier relations that were strained over the past two years, a junior Russian minister has said.”It is time to return to normal forms of intergovernmental cooperation,” Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told reporters in London Friday.

“This is necessary both for Britain and Russia,” stressed Karasin, who is currently on an official visit to London.

Russia and Britain have been at loggerheads over London’s refusal to extradite fugitive ex-oligarch Boris Berezovsky and Chechen emissary Akhmed Zakayev, accused by Moscow of terrorist activities, as well as Moscow’s refusal to hand over Andrei Lugovoi, who Britain claims to be behind the poisoning of intelligence defector Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006.

Bilateral ties were further strained by the closure of British Council offices in St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg over tax and status violations early this year as well as a dispute over the running of the TNK-BP joint oil venture.

Karasin expressed hope that the issue would “be in the spotlight during the forthcoming meeting of (Russian) President (Dmitry) Medvedev and (British) Prime Minister Gordon Brown”.

The two officials are expected to meet on the sidelines of the ongoing G20 meeting in Washington Saturday.

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