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Russia to meet Britain halfway over poisoning row

2/07/2008 - 21:54

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said he was prepared to compromise to resolve a row with Britain over a murdered Kremlin critic, but he expects Prime MInister Gordon Brown to do the same when the two men meet next week.

Russia and Britain have vibrant economic links butdiplomatic ties were brought to a post-Cold War low afterMoscow refused to extradite the man British police suspect ofkilling Russian emigre Alexander Litvinenko in London two yearsago.

Medvedev is expected to have talks next week with Brown onthe sidelines of a Group of Eight summit on the Japanese islandof Hokkaido.

"Of course, Russia is prepared to give some ground, but weexpect corresponding steps from our British partners," Medvedevsaid in an interview with media outlets from G8 countries, atranscript of which was published on Thursday on the Kremlin'sInternet site, www.kremlin.ru.

"On those issues where we have differences or some kinds ofproblems, I believe we must simply discuss them eye to eye,"Medvedev said.

"Russia-Britain relations go back centuries. I will sayfrankly: we have had situations before now that were tougherthan this," he said without elaborating on what possiblecompromise he would consider.

Russia has angered Britain by refusing to extradite AndreiLugovoy. He is Britain's chief suspect in the 2006 murder ofLitvinenko, a former Russian security agent who was poisonedwith a radioactive isotope.

Britain last year expelled four Russian diplomats over theaffair. Russia threw out the same number of British diplomatsin response and forced the British government's cultural arm toclose its offices in two Russian cities.

(Writing by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Mary Gabriel)


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