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Foreign secretary invites Lavrov to visit UK in coming months — Foreign Office

Liz Truss stressed the cultural and educational links between Russia and the UK
UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss Russian Foreign Ministry/TASS
UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss
© Russian Foreign Ministry/TASS

LONDON, February 10./TASS/. UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss invited Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to visit the UK in the coming months, the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office said in a press release on Thursday.

"The Foreign Secretary noted that our differences were with the aggressive policy of the Russian government towards Ukraine, not with the Russian people. She highlighted the cultural and educational links between Russia and the UK and invited Foreign Minister Lavrov to visit the UK in the coming months," it said.

"The UK wanted to see an improved bilateral relationship, but this depended on Russia choosing to deescalate and taking the path of diplomacy," it added. Moscow has firmly and consistently rejected the claims from the West that its actions are aggressive.

"In her meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said that the aggressive build-up of Russian forces on Ukraine’s border threatened Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. She made clear that Russia needed to live up to the international commitments it had entered into," the release said.

"She added that any further Russian invasion of Ukraine would have massive consequences and incur severe costs. Russia needed to deescalate, withdraw its forces from the border and pursue a diplomatic path as NATO allies had offered," it stressed.

Liz Truss also warned that Russia’s action "was counterproductive and had increased tensions, to which NATO and Ukraine had to respond". "The Foreign Secretary noted the right of every nation to choose its own security arrangements. She rejected the notion that improving one nation’s security threatened another’s," the press release said.

Lately, Ukraine and the West have been increasingly echoing claims of an alleged possible Russian "invasion" of Ukraine ever more frequently. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov branded such information as an "empty and groundless" escalation of tensions, emphasizing that Russia does not pose a threat to anyone. That said, he didn’t exclude the possibility of provocations being whipped up in order to justify such claims and warned that attempts to resolve the problem in southeastern Ukraine through the use of force would have the most serious consequences.

Cooperation on Afghanistan and Iran

Liz Truss and Sergey Lavrov also discussed cooperation on the situation in Afghanistan and the return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) at their talks in Moscow on Thursday.

"The Foreign Secretary said as Permanent Members of the UN Security Council, the UK and Russia had a responsibility to maintain international peace and security and the pair discussed cooperation on addressing Iran’s nuclear programme and the situation in Afghanistan," the document said.