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Boris Johnson to visit Moscow for 'robust' talks

Boris Johnson is to be the first Foreign Secretary to visit Moscow in more than five years.

However, the Foreign Office has stressed the move does not signal a change in Britain's attitude towards Russia regarding sources of tension like Ukraine.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "The Foreign Secretary has accepted an invitation from Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to visit Moscow in the coming weeks.

"The Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have made clear that our policy towards Russia is to 'engage but beware', and the visit is entirely consistent with this approach.

"Discussions will focus on the UK-Russia relationship and current international issues including Syria and Ukraine, where we continue to have significant differences.

"This is not a return to business as usual, and the Foreign Secretary will continue to be robust on those issues where we differ.

"We have always been clear that the UK will engage with Russia where it is in our national interest to do so.

"Details of precise timings will be confirmed in due course.

"A potential visit has been in the pipeline for some time, with the Prime Minister and President Putin discussing this when they met in China in September 2016."

Government sources told the Press Association the visit does not represent an attempt to reset relations with Russia.

They said that could not happen while Moscow maintains its current stance on the situation in Ukraine.

Sources said Mr Johnson will not "cosy-up" to his hosts during the trip, and the Foreign Secretary has given personal assurances to Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko that Britain is not changing its position towards Russia and he will convey a "tough message" on the situation in the country to Moscow.

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