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Moscow and London decide not to quarrel

September 13, 2011, 12:29 UTC+3
On Monday, the British prime minister was received in the Kremlin for the first time over the past six years
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MOSCOW, September 13 (Itar-Tass) — On Monday, the British prime minister was received in the Kremlin for the first time over the past six years. David Cameron’s talks with RF President Dmitry Medvedev ended with signing of a package of economic documents and the statement that the differences in the case of Alexander Litvinenko’s death and some other issues still poison the atmosphere of political relations between the two countries. However, the parties have tried not to dramatise the lack of a common position on many issues. Russian media say that after several years of diplomatic stagnation the Russian-British relations have somewhat warmed.

A total of seven documents were signed, including on the establishment of a financial centre in Moscow, on direct investment and the development of innovative technologies, Novye Izvestiya writes. Meanwhile, many Britons expected quite a different behaviour from their government head. On the eve of Cameron’s visit, the publication recalls, five former UK foreign ministers signed a petition to the prime minister urging him to rise at the meeting very sensitive issues: the cases of Litvinenko, Magnitsky and Khodorkovsky. And at a meeting with students of Moscow State University in the morning the British prime minister himself said that the Litvinenko case would be one of the key issues at the negotiations.

Dmitry Medvedev and David Cameron tried to look like old friends, Kommersant notes. They smiled and pointedly informally talked to each other. Both politicians tried not to mention what namely – literally and figuratively – is poisoning the political relations between Moscow and London. And this is especially the open case of British citizen Alexander Litvinenko, and Britain suspects Russian Andrei Lugovoi of involvement in his death.

However, the newspaper notes, journalists forced the two leaders to name the problems. It became clear from answers of Messrs. Cameron and Medvedev that, on the one hand, the Russian-British relations will yet long stumble over Litvinenko’s death. But it can be forgotten, if necessary.

However, Kommersant found out that at non-public talks between Moscow and London on the Litvinenko the ideas about how to get out of this impasse have already been expressed. “As we cannot extradite Lugovoi, the solution could be found by a joint investigation,” a Russian source familiar with the content of such negotiations said. “We offered the British side to do it, and if it is found out that Lugovoi is really to blame, he should be put to prison. But in Russia. However, they do not want this.”

The parties on Monday were trying not to dramatise the lack of a common position on many issues. Both on the proposals on the introduction of visa and economic sanctions against the persons involved in the “Magnitsky list” case and on the difficulties faced by British Petroleum in the Russian Federation and also on the situation in Syria.

It seems that after several years of diplomatic stagnation the Russian-British relations have somewhat warmed, according to Nezavisimaya Gazeta. The visit has highlighted new key points in the bilateral relations. As it turned out, the priority that allowed the sides to neglect the fundamental differences were economic and trade ties. The rate of Russian GDP growth – about 4 percent – is what Europe can only dream about, so Cameron thought it would be unwise to miss the chance to revive the national economy by increasing exports to the Russian market. Within contracts with Russian businesses 500 jobs for British citizens are to be created with 250 million pounds sterling.

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