With ties frosty, Britain's May to meet Russia's Putin at G20
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May at this week’s G20 summit in Japan with a view to seeking improved relations between the countries, the Kremlin said on Wednesday.
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May attends the European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, June 20, 2019. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw
May’s spokesman said the meeting did not represent a normalisation of ties.
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.
“The leaders will talk over sensitive questions - as you know there are many of them ...,” Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov told reporters at a briefing.
“... If any kind of opportunity can be found in our relations with Britain to establish new cooperation, then we will only welcome that.”
The G20 summit takes place in Osaka on Friday and Saturday.
May’s spokesman said her position on Salisbury and “Russia’s wider pattern of malign behaviour” was well known.
“This meeting is an important opportunity to deliver this message leader-to-leader to ensure the UK’s position is fully understood,” he said.
May last met Putin at a G20 summit in Argentina in November, when the Russian leader approached her informally.
Putin said this month that the two countries should turn a page on the Skripal episode and that he hoped Britain’s next prime minister would move on from it to improve ties.
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.
Reporting by Katya Golubkova; additional reporting by Elizabeth Piper; Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Alison Williams and John Stonestreet
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