Still serious differences with Russia: Britain's Hague

13th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

British Foreign Secretary William Hague, on a rare visit to Russia, said on Wednesday there were still "serious differences" in relations between Moscow and London.

"We have serious differences which we do not shy away from discussing," Hague told reporters after talks with his counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

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

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

Russia has always 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 position.

Both Hague and Lavrov acknowledged that they had discussed the Litvinenko case but indicated that no breakthrough over the matter was in sight.

"We acknowledge that differences remain," Hague said. "We are not here today to announce any change in that position," referring to the Litvinenko.

Earlier in the day Hague met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at his Gorky residence just outside Moscow, passing him "the best wishes" from British Prime Minister David Cameron.

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 given the chance of a meeting with Medvedev.

© 2010 AFP

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