To Russia with love: hopes David Cameron visit will signal new dawn
David Cameron will next week become the first senior British politician to speak to the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin for more than three years, it emerged last night.
Mr Cameron will hold talks with Mr Putin and the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev during a visit that represents a high-profile sign of the Coalition Government's attempt to reset Britain's relationship with the country's leaders after it was damaged by the 2006 poisoning of the former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in London. The depths to which that relationship had sunk emerged yesterday when British sources admitted that apart from one telephone call not a single senior British politician had met or spoken to Mr Putin since 2007. Mr Putin phoned Gordon Brown when he became Prime Minister in June 2008 but there has been no top-level contact since and relations have been described as extremely difficult.
Significantly, although Mr Cameron will raise the issue of Mr Litvinenko and Britain's call for the extradition of the former KGB officer accused of poisoning him, he will not prioritise the issue. The Kremlin said the topic was not "worthy of high-level discussion".
Privately, British officials agree and no longer want the case to be an impediment to improving relations. They are keen for Mr Cameron to meet Mr Putin to try to build a relationship with him as he may be re-elected President of Russia in 2012.
During Britain's 'time out in the cold' Mr Putin has cultivated relations with Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, and the President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, while his personal friendship with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has brought gains for Italy.
Six hundred UK companies work in Russia, which buys more than £5 billion of British exports each year. But difficulties remain and yesterday British and Russian officials played down expectations that the talks would lead to agreements on areas such a visa restrictions and the terms under which the British Council would be allowed to re-open its offices in the country. The Russians are also smarting at Britain's refusal to join up to a working group on security that they have established ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
"We have set up a group for cooperation between security services on security threats. Leading European countries and the US have joined, but Britain has ignored our invitation," said Dmitry Kozak, Russia's deputy prime minister. "We don't know why."
- 1 Five-year-old Iris Grace is raising awareness of autism through her extraordinary paintings
- 2 Car tax disc changes: Two days to go - and they affect you much more than just not displaying a piece of paper
- 3 The Simpsons death: Creator Al Jean would 'kill himself' before character like Homer or Lisa
- 4 British man raped while urinating in bushes at Oktoberfest beer festival in Germany
- 5 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
Five-year-old Iris Grace is raising awareness of autism through her extraordinary paintings
Car tax disc changes: Two days to go - and they affect you much more than just not displaying a piece of paper
Isis an hour away from Baghdad - with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
British man raped while urinating in bushes at Oktoberfest beer festival in Germany
George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin wedding: The famous congratulate actor and human rights lawyer after Venice nuptials
Isis, we are told, is a 'clear and dangerous threat to our way of life'. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
'Women, walk wherever you want' posters taken down in Stamford Hill following 'unacceptable' signs separating men and women
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
- < Previous
- Next >
£18000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...
£24000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...
£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Science Supply Teacher position...