Russia Seeks to Amend Relations with UK

World | July 20, 2007, Friday // 00:00

Russia is seeking to revise and amend its relations with Britain, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday after a week of diplomatic rows and expulsions between the two countries.

The Kremlin expelled four diplomats from the UK embassy in Moscow in retaliation for a similar move by Foreign Secretary David Miliband earlier this week.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown defended his Government's position in the dispute with Russia, which is refusing to extradite the prime suspect in Litvinenko's murder, Andrei Lugovoy, to face trial in the UK.

Speaking during a visit to Paris for talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Mr Brown said: "We had to take difficult decisions in relation to the Litvinenko case, and we will not tolerate a situation where a British citizen is assassinated on British soil.
"Our first duty is to protect our citizens and to prevent there being lawlessness in the streets of London."

Lavrov said Britain started the row by expelling four unnamed Russian diplomats and exacerbated things by halting cooperation in the fight to against terrorism, prompting Moscow to follow suit.

London said on Monday it would expel four unnamed Russian diplomats, thought to be intelligence officers, after Moscow refused to hand over the main suspect in the investigation into the murder of Kremlin defector Alexander Litvinenko.

Litvinenko received political asylum in the UK in 2000 after falling out with newly-elected president Vladimir Putin.

He was poisoned last year using highly radioactive isotope polonium 210, with British investigators accusing Andrei Lugovoi, a former intelligence officer, of carrying out the plot.

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