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Italy’s ambassador to Russia calls to move beyond Skripal incident and focus on dialogue

Italy has always been in favor of cooperation, the ambassador stressed

MOSCOW, April 9. /TASS/. Italy’s Ambassador to Russia Pasquale Terraciano has called to move beyond the episode with the alleged poisoning of former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and focus on dialogue.

"I think we must look forward and put this episode to rest. We did have different points of view on the situation but now, I believe, we must focus on cooperation," he told journalists on Monday.

"We have always been in favor of cooperation and dialogue," he stressed. "We are a member of the North Atlantic Alliance and therefore we are bound by certain obligations in respect of other our partners, but Italy will stick to the policy of openness to dialogue with Russia."

On March 4, former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal, 66, who had been earlier sentenced in Russia for spying for the UK, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were found unconscious on a bench near the Maltings shopping center in Salisbury, UK. Police said they had been exposed to a nerve agent.

Later, London claimed that the toxin of Novichok-class had been allegedly developed in Russia. With that, the UK rushed to accuse Russia of being involved, while failing to produce any evidence. Moscow refuted the accusations that it had participated in the incident and points out that neither the Soviet Union nor Russia have ever done research into that toxic chemical.

Without providing any proof, London expelled 23 Russian diplomats and suspended all planned high-level bilateral contacts. In response, Moscow expelled the equal number of UK diplomats. In addition, Britain’s consulate in St. Petersburg was ordered to be closed and the British Council’s operations in Russia were terminated.

In a show of solidarity with the UK, a number of Western countries, including Italy, expelled Russian diplomats. The move was followed by tit-for-tat response from Russian.