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U.S. urges Russia, Britain to cooperate on extradition

RIA Novosti

06/06/2007 15:21

WASHINGTON, June 6 (RIA Novosti) - The United States has urged Russia to collaborate more with Britain over extradition requests by both countries, but Russia's foreign minister denied a lack of cooperation.

Russia wants Britain to extradite tycoon Boris Berezovsky on fraud charges and Chechen separatist leader Akhmed Zakayev. Britain is seeking the extradition of a former FSB guard turned businessman, Andrei Lugovoi, accused of poisoning Alexander Litvinenko, a former intelligence officer, in London in November.

"We would encourage them to cooperate," Sean McCormack, U.S. State Department spokesman, said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he was surprised at McCormack's allegation. "Russia has actively cooperated with British prosecutors from the very beginning," he said.

Russian authorities are refusing to hand over Lugovoi, citing the Constitution, which does not allow extradition of a Russian national to another state, and saying that the evidence against him was insufficient.

McCormack said he was confident that Britain was seriously considering Russia's extradition requests. "I am sure they are taking a close look at them. That is for them to resolve, but we would encourage an attitude of cooperation," he said.

"The important thing here is to answer the question of who killed this man. The British authorities say they have enough evidence to bring this particular person to trial," McCormack said.

The U.S. official declined to say whether Washington backed London's demand to extradite Lugovoi, but urged an early resolution to the case.

"This is a case that needs to be resolved. This murder of Mr. Litvinenko is just terrible. It's an awful, terrible way to die through this radiation poisoning, not to mention the other people possibly put at risk through what was done," he said.

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