Putin to meet Blair and Queen on first official visit to West

Vladimir Putin will visit Britain next Monday for talks with Tony Blair and a meeting with the Queen in his first trip to the West since replacing Boris Yeltsin.

The Russian President, a former KGB chief, is expected to raise Russian concerns about Britain's support for the American "Star Wars Two" project, which is aimed at creating a nuclear defensive umbrella to prevent attacks on the US.

Downing Street expressed quiet satisfaction that Mr Putin had chosen London to make his first visit to the West, in spite of the strong criticism in Europe of the alleged Russian human rights abuses in Chechnya. The clear aim is to engage with the Russian President, rather than to protest over alleged Russian war crimes.

"We have recognised that the Russians have a security problem," said a spokesman. "Any use of force should be proportionate and mindful of the need to reduce the risk to civilians."

However, Mr Putin may be seeking to use the Prime Minister's close relationship with President Bill Clinton to underline the anxiety felt in Russia at the star wars project.

Geoff Hoon, the Secretary of State for Defence, has made clear that Britain would allow the US to use early warning systems in this country, but Britain would want to be brought under the protection of the antimissile umbrella. That could mean the stationing of US missiles in Britain, reviving memories of the protests over the siting of American Cruise missiles at British bases such as Greenham Common.

In an echo of the historic Thatcher-Gorbachev talks, the Prime Minister's official spokesman said it was in Britain's and Europe's interests to develop a "strategic relationship" with Russia.

The Russian President will arrive late on 16 April for talks the following day with Mr Blair and a round-table meeting with senior industrialists.

Mr Blair's agenda will include the conflict in Chechnya, but there were clear signals that in spite of that, Downing Street does not intend to allow it to dominate the talks. Mr Blair extended the invitation to visit Britain during his meeting with Mr Putin in St Petersburg, Russia, last month during the presidential election campaign.

It is being described as an "official working visit" rather than a state visit, but the Russian President is expected to meet the Queen during his two-day stay in London. The Russian news agency ITAR-Tass reported that Mr Putin would meet the Queen at Buckingham Palace. He will travel without his wife, Lyudmila.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said that the Queen was guided by the Foreign Office on meetings with foreign heads of state on working visits to the country.

The Council of Europe decided last week to suspend Russia in protest at human rights abuses in Chechnya. It is believed that Mr Putin is seeking a way out of the Chechen guerrilla attacks on Russian troops occupying the breakaway republic.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Voices
voices
Sport
Roger Federer is greeted by Michael Jordan following his victory over Marinko Matosevic
tennisRoger Federer gets Michael Jordan's applause following tweener shot in win over Marinko Matosevic
News
peopleJustin Bieber accuses paparazzi of acting 'recklessly' after car crash
Arts and Entertainment
Oppressive atmosphere: the cast of 'Tyrant'
tvIntroducing Tyrant, one of the most hotly anticipated dramas of the year
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Test Job

TBC: Test Recruiter for iJobs: Job London (Greater)

Senior Developer - HTML, CSS, PHP, JavaScript, VBA, SQL

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: We are working with one o...

Senior Developer - HTML, CSS, PHP, JavaScript, VBA, SQL

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: We are working with one o...

Senior Developer - HTML, CSS, PHP, JavaScript, VBA, SQL

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: We are working with one o...

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis