Russia says up to Britain to thaw ties

12th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Russia on Tuesday said it was up to Britain to take the initiative and help thaw frigid bilateral ties, as Moscow was set to host British Foreign Secretary William Hague on a rare visit this week.

"I hope that I will hear concrete answers from my colleague. From the Russian side we do not need a reset," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

"We see an abnormal situation in relations, it has not emerged at our initiative. So we are waiting for a reaction to our good will," he told repoters in televised remarks.

Lavrov said Russia was ready to resume joint work over inter-governmental agreements, including those governing the operations of Britain's Russian-based cultural centres that have come under pressure from authorities in recent years.

"This work was frozen at London's initiative. We have long been ready to unfreeze it," he said.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is to host Hague when he visits Moscow on Wednesday.

Russia and Britain have spoken of resetting their ties -- in a similar way to the recent warming of Moscow-Washington relations -- since the Conservative-Liberal coalition took power in Britain in May.

But attempts to improve ties have long been stymied by a host of issues, including a bitter dispute over the murder of a Kremlin critic in London in 2006 that badly chilled relations ever since.

Russia has consistently dismissed Britain's calls for the extradition of Russian lawmaker Andrei Lugovoi, the main suspect in the murder of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006, but London has stood by its demand.

A trip to Moscow by Hague's Labour predecessor David Miliband in November 2009 was the first visit by a British foreign secretary for five years but he was not accorded a meeting with Medvedev.

© 2010 AFP

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