Danish royals to visit Russia

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Danish Queen Margrethe II and her husband Henrik will make an state visit to Russia in September following an invitation from Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, the royal palace announced Monday.

The visit is aimed at strengthening diplomatic relations between the two countries which have been strained in the past.

In 2002, former Russian President Vladimir Putin cancelled a visit to Denmark because Copenhagen hosted a meeting of the World Chechen Congress, a gathering of people from the southern Russian territory that has fought repeated battles with Moscow.

A Danish court also refused to extradite Chechen separatist leader Akhmed Zakaiev, who is wanted in Russia on charges of murder and terrorism.

Relations improved following a visit to Copenhagen by Medvedev in April last year however.

Danish Crown Prince Frederick will accompany the royal couple on their first state visit to Russia.

The Danish foreign ministry said the visit is aimed at reinforcing political, economic and cultural relations between the two countries, and at promoting opportunities for Danish businesses in Russia's growing market.

The royals are scheduled to arrive in Moscow on September 6. They will visit St. Petersburg on September 8 and 9, then take a private trip ending on September 12.

© 2011 AFP

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