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Cameron denies sacrificing Litvinenko issue for trade

RIA Novosti

14:27 12/09/2011

MOSCOW, September 12 (RIA Novosti) - British Prime Minister David Cameron dismissed suggestions on Monday that the U.K. had “parked” the issue of the death of Alexander Litvinenko for trade relations.

Speaking at a joint news conference with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Cameron said Britain and Russia disagreed on the death of former KGB officer Litvinenko, but that the issue remained “important” for London.

"It remains an issue between Britain and Russia. We haven't changed our position about that, and the Russians haven't changed their position," Cameron said.

"But I don't think that means we freeze the entire relationship," he said. "What we should do, as mature and sensible countries, is try and see if we can build a relationship that is in our mutual interests...we both want to see a growth in trade and investment and jobs."

Medvedev reiterated that the Russian Constitution forbid the extradition of Russian citizens.

He also said that, despite tensions, Russia and Britain had made progress.

“I think we have managed to overcome some difficulties but it does not mean that we have no complex issues left to address,” he said.

Cameron is accompanied on the first visit by a British leader to Russia since 2005 by a large business delegation, including BP head Bob Dudley. BP’s Moscow offices were raided by bailiffs two weeks ago.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had suggested before Cameron’s visit that the British prime minister refrain from bringing up the case, which was a major cause in he deterioration of bilateral relations.

Cameron is expected to meet Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin during his brief visit. Whitehall officials revealed last week that there had been no direct contact between Putin and British ministers or diplomats since 2007.

Cameron also said that Britain supported Russia's bid to join the World Trade Organization. Russia is the only major economy outsde the global trade body and has been attempting to join for almost two decades.

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