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British premier in Kremlin talks to repair frosty relations Eds: Reledes, adds comments from Cameron, Medvedev

Other News Materials 12 September 2011 18:10
British Prime Minister David Cameron on a state visit to Russia on Monday took a step toward repairing frosty relations between the two countries - but there was little progress on a long-running row over the London death of a Russian defector
British premier in Kremlin talks to repair frosty relations Eds: Reledes, adds comments from Cameron, Medvedev

British Prime Minister David Cameron on a state visit to Russia on Monday took a step toward repairing frosty relations between the two countries - but there was little progress on a long-running row over the London death of a Russian defector, DPA reported.

It was the first visit by a British prime minister to Moscow in six years, and since the mysterious 2006 death of Aleksandr Litvinenko, a former Russian secret agent whom British prosecutors have said may have been killed by Kremlin assassins.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at a joint press conference with Cameron said the two countries' judicial systems and even secret services should work together to investigate how Litvinenko, a former agent in Russia's national intelligence agency, the FSB, received a lethal radiation dose.

"I think that the time has come for the renewal of contacts between not just our law enforcement agencies, but our special services," Medvedev said, according to Interfax. "We are ready to discuss any option on how to organize this."

British prosecutors have alleged three FSB assassins, one of whom is now a serving member of Russia's parliament, murdered the former Russian secret agent by exposing him to the rare radioactive element polonium in October or November 2006.

In a death-bed testament, Litvinenko claimed he had been targeted by an FSB hit squad sent after him by the Kremlin. Scandal over his possible murder and the Kremlin's refusal to extradite suspects pushed Russo-British relations to a low ebb.

Cameron and Medvedev both made clear London and Moscow were still far apart on Litvinenko's death.

"It is a fact that the two governments are not in agreement with each other on this question. I in no way am trying to minimize this ... and we have not changed our position," Cameron said at the press conference.

"The Russian constitution makes clear that a Russian citizen may not be extradited or handed over to a foreign government for trial or questioning," Medvedev said. "This will never happen."

Medvedev said his talks with Cameron were "wide-ranging" and that they covered "a variety of difficult themes."

The problematic relationship between the British energy giant BP and Russian authorities was another topic discussed by the two leaders, Interfax reported.

BP senior executives have said the Kremlin is using legal and official pressure to reduce and possibly end BP's operations in Russia's energy-rich Arctic Sea territories - an allegation denied by Russian officials.

Medvedev in a possible attempt to inject levity into the press conference referred to an incident in Cameron's youth during which, according to British intelligence analysts, the future British leader was approached by KGB agents attempting to recruit him as a spy.

The recruitment attempt never took place, Medvedev said.

"I am sure that David would have been a very good KGB agent. But then he would never have come Britain's prime minister," Medvedev said.

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