Britain and Russia are trying to thaw out frosty relations during the first visit to Moscow by a UK foreign secretary in five years. David Miliband said the two countries would not paper over their differences, but would continue to work together.
His talks with his Russian counterpart are aimed at seeking collaboration on Afghanistan, the Middle East and Iran’s nuclear programme. Britain wants Russia to take a tougher stance if negotiations with Tehran fail. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia was also looking to build bridges. “Despite remaining problems in relations between our two countries,” said the foreign minister. “We and Britain have a real interest in intensifying our cooperation in bilateral and international issues.” The rift was sparked by the murder of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko in London three years ago. The former KGB agent fell ill and died after receiving a dose of radiation poisoning. Moscow has refused UK requests to extradite the chief suspect. Relations hit a new low when Russia shut down British Council offices, accusing the UK government’s cultural arm of tax evasion. It followed a series of tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions. But two years on, David Miliband now says there’s a genuine search for common ground and common action between the two countries.