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British PM May confronts Putin over Skripal poisoning in tense G20 meeting

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Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May attend a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan June 28, 2019
Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May attend a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan June 28, 2019 -
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Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS
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British Prime Minister Theresa May confronted Russian President Vladimir Putin over the poisoning of a former Russian spy in the UK last year as the two leaders met at the G20 summit in Japan on Friday (28 June).

"The prime minister said that the use of a deadly nerve agent on the streets of Salisbury formed part of a wider pattern of unacceptable behaviour and was a truly despicable act that led to the death of a British citizen, Dawn Sturgess," May's office said in a statement.

May also told the Russian president that she wanted the two Russians Britain says is responsible for the attack on Sergei Skripal in Salisbury last year brought to justice, the statement said.

Russia must end its "irresponsible and destabilising activity" if relations between the two countries were to improve, May told Putin.

"(She) underlined that we remain open to a different relationship, but for that to happen the Russian government must choose a different path."

Earlier on Friday, President Putin made inflammatory comments in a Financial Times interview, saying “the liberal idea has become obsolete" and that the ideology has "outlived its purpose".

READ: Ideology debate: Putin says 'liberalism obsolete', Tusk says 'authoritarianism obsolete'

About the Skripal case, Putin told the British newspaper: “Listen, all this fuss about spies and counterspies, it is not worth serious interstate relations. This [Skripal] spy story, as we say, it is not worth five kopeks. Or even £5, for that matter.”

Bilateral relations plunged to post-Cold War lows last year when London blamed Moscow for poisoning former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with a nerve agent in the English city of Salisbury.

Moscow denies involvement in the attack, which prompted the biggest wave of diplomatic expulsions between Moscow and the West since the Cold War.

British prosecutors have charged two Russian military intelligence officers, known by the aliases Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, with attempted murder in their absence over the attack. They deny involvement.