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Russian, British MPs agree to resume contacts — Russian lawmaker

May 17, 2016, 19:19 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Russian and British lawmakers have held a meeting, the first one since the outburst of the Ukrainian crisis

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© AP Photo/Sang Tan

MOSCOW, May 17. /TASS/. Russian and British lawmakers have agreed to resume contacts after a more than two years' break, Alexey Pushkov, the chairman of the international committee of the Russian State Duma lower parliament house, said on Tuesday after a meeting with a delegation of British lawmakers, the first one since the outburst of the Ukrainian crisis.

"We were assured that the foreign affairs committee [of the House of Commons] is interested in beginning to resume contacts with Russian parliament, even if there is no serious dialogue between the executive authorities. They think that parliamentarians should speak to each other," Pushkov told journalists.

According to Pushkov, the visiting British lawmakers also said that "by far not all of the members of the House of Commons are hostile to Russia and that there are groups that want to resume relations and think that the British government’s current approach to Russia is wrong."

"They also suggested contacts be resumed not only between the foreign affairs committees but also between [parliamentary] relations groups," he noted.

"We reassured our colleagues that we are ready to resume relations between the foreign affairs committees. After the elections to the State Duma [in September], in case the British side is still ready to establish relations between groups on relations with Russia, we will set up a similar group on relations with Great Britain," Pushkov said, adding he "sees no obstacles for the Russian-British dialogue."

Britain should take more moderate position on anti-Russian sanctions

"Members of the British delegation said that the Russian counter-sanctions are felt in Britain," Pushkov said. "My suggestion was that Great Britain cares little about trade with us. But they told me that as a matter of fact it does care."

"Thus, Britain has lost a possibility sell big volumes of its beef, for example," he said, adding that the two countries once had a bilateral agreement on that matter. "But today it [exports of British-made beef to Russia] is impossible. So, there is frustration among British companies and farmers over the Russian sanctions."

"They asked us a question what Britain could do to improve the atmosphere between the West and Russia as this atmosphere is becoming very dangerous," Pushkov said. "We see what is happening in Russia-NATO relations, all these exercises near the Russian border, dangerous air maneuvers, incidents in the Baltic Sea. As far as I understood, the British lawmakers are worried over it, they think that, regrettably, there is negative potential of the situation running out of control."

"Our answer was [for London] to take a somewhat more moderate position, say, on the sanctions and not to follow those countries that are seeking to enhance their influence within the Western alliance by means of unbridled Russophobia," he stressed, adding he is referring to the Baltic states and Poland.

"We know that there are other countries in the European Union that stand for more moderate relations, for abandoning confrontation, for gradual normalization of relations with Russia," Pushkov said. "We said that it would be useful is Britain could take a more restrained position on the issues of the sanctions."

"A great deal of things, such as dangerous mid-sea encounter, aircraft approaching the borders of other states, etc., are only a consequence and the reason is in the political crisis," the Russian lawmaker noted. "Should the sides agree to begin gradually solve the political crisis, naturally, unpleasant incidents fraught with ever more unpleasant incidents would be much rare."

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