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Cameron optimistic on Russia links

David Cameron has insisted Britain and Russia could move beyond the Litvinenko murder, despite a clash with president Dmitry Medvedev.

The continuing impact of the dispute was laid bare when Mr Medvedev insisted the chief suspect in the dissident's killing six years ago will never be extradited.

He also said there are questions about the integrity of the UK justice system, and demanded that the Prime Minister respects Russian laws.

Meanwhile, Mr Cameron flatly refused a public plea from the president for intelligence co-operation to be restored.

The blunt exchange came as the Prime Minister sought to build bridges during the first visit by a British leader to Moscow for six years.

In a joint press conference at the Kremlin, both men sounded an optimistic note about the potential for boosting trade, economic and cultural links between their countries.

However, questions about the 2006 radiation poisoning in London of Alexander Litvinenko, which sent relations into the deep freeze, have dominated the Prime Minister's public appearances.

Mr Cameron made clear that the Government is not backing away from its demand that ex-KGB agent Andrei Lugovoy face charges in Britain, but he said there is a "bilateral agenda for Britain and Russia that needs to be progressed, and should be progressed".

He denied that he is sacrificing principles in order to get relations back on track. "It's not parking an issue, just recognising there's a disagreement, that hasn't changed ... We should work on our relationship beyond it," Mr Cameron said.

But Mr Medvedev reiterated Russia's position that extraditing Mr Lugovoy - now a member of the country's parliament - is impossible under the constitution. "We all have to learn to respect our legal frameworks," he said through an interpreter. "That will never happen no matter what will be the circumstances."


From Belfast Telegraph