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Hague urges dialogue and diplomacy

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, right, greets Foreign Secretary William Hague during their meeting (AP)
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, right, greets Foreign Secretary William Hague during their meeting (AP)

Britain and Russia should seek to resolve their differences through "dialogue and diplomacy", Foreign Secretary William Hague said, as he sought to rebuild the UK's battered relationship with Moscow.

On his first visit to Russia since taking office, Mr Hague held high level talks with President Dmitry Medvedev and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov aimed at opening up new areas of co-operation between the two countries.

Anglo-Russian relations have been at a post Cold War low since the murder in London in 2006 of ex-KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko and the refusal of Russia to extradite his fellow former KGB man Andrei Lugovoi who is wanted for the killing.

At a joint news conference, Mr Hague and Mr Lavrov acknowledged that they remained at odds over the case, but insisted that it should not prevent their two countries working together on other issues.

"Our countries have had some serious differences in the past. We should be able to acknowledge that differences remain and apply our minds to them, patiently, through dialogue and diplomacy," he said.

"This does not stop us from working together to combat international organised crime, drug trafficking, immigration crime and cyber crime.

"Clearly there is a lot of progress that we can make in the economic area and the knowledge partnership that we talked about."

His comments were echoed by Mr Lavrov who said: "We don't view the remaining problems as an obstacle for other issues."

The Foreign Office has been encouraged by Russia's invitation to Mr Hague to visit after Mr Medvedev and Prime Minister David Cameron said they wanted a "stronger, more productive relationship" when they met at the G8 and G20 summits in Canada earlier this year.

Meanwhile Mr Lugovoi, who is now a member of the Russian parliament, urged the British authorities to drop their case against him, saying he would never stand trial in a foreign court.

PA

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