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Russian Foreign Minister Visits Britain Amid Tense Relations

February 14, 2011

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov begins a two-day visit to Britain today that will include meetings with Prime Minister David Cameron and British Foreign Minister William Hague.

The trip comes amid what agency reports characterize as strained ties between the countries.

Russia continues to refuse a British request to extradite the chief suspect in the radioactive poisoning of Aleksandr Litvinenko, a Kremlin critic and former state security officer, in London in 2006.

Russia was also reportedly angered by Britain's decision to grant asylum to Chechen separatist Akhmed Zakayev and self-exiled billionaire Boris Berezovsky, who was convicted of theft in absentia in Russia.

In their latest diplomatic spat, the two exchanged sharp remarks over Russia's decision to refuse entry to a correspondent for Britain's "The Guardian" newspaper. The journalist, Luke Harding, has since been readmitted.

Much of the visit will focus on bolstering trade ties, which continue to be strong. In January, Russia's state-owned oil giant, Rosneft, agreed to join forces with Britain's BP to explore Arctic oil deposits.

compiled from agency reports


Copyright (c) 2011. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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