Russia may be coming in from cold after talks with Hague

The Times

Britain signalled that it was ready for a thaw in the difficult relationship with the Kremlin yesterday —but not at the expense of sweeping under the carpet possible Russian involvement in the killings of the defector Alexander Litvinenko and the whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky.

A meeting in London between William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, was intended to usher in a new level of co-operation on Syria, Iran and the troop withdrawal next year from Afghanistan.

But it was held a day before Sir Robert Owen, the Assistant Deputy Coroner, was due to hold a pre-inquest hearing on Litvinenko, a former Russian secret police officer who was poisoned with polonium in 2006. Mr Hague had no choice but to raise the issue, at least behind closed doors.

“There was a full, substantive and comprehensive exchange on bilateral issues that we do not agree on including human rights and the cases of Sergei Magnitsky and Alexander Litvinenko,” a Foreign Office spokesman said. Mr Hague also emphasised the importance of the Magnitsky case in an interview with the Interfax news agency before the talks.

“I have urged my Russian counterpart to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice without further delay, and [that] measures be put in place to prevent such cases from happening again,” Mr Hague said.

Magnitsky, who worked for Hermitage Capital, died in a prison cell after trying to expose a tax fraud scam. Now, although he died three years ago, he is himself on trial for tax crimes.

Neither case was mentioned in the news conference after the talks, which highlighted future Anglo-Russian co-operation. The new approach — symbolised by Mr Lavrov’s genial “Spasibo [thank you] William” —seems to be not to mention controversial cases by name when on a joint platform.

Russian sources say they are happy that a group representing Russian prosecutors will be considered a party to the Litvinenko inquest. The coroner will consider today applications for anonymity from potential witnesses.

Whether this will really turn into what is being presented as a “mini-thaw” in relations will soon be tested. The talks — also attended by Philip Hammond, the Defence Minister, and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu — also included how to persuade the Syrian opposition to form a negotiating team for a political transition.

Mr Lavrov said Moscow was still opposed to the supply of arms to rebels. Neither Mr Hague nor Mr Hammond ruled out going beyond the commitment to supply non-lethal aid. The discussions are to continue, known as the 2 Plus 2 Consultation Group. срочный займ на карту займ на карту онлайн https://zp-pdl.com/online-payday-loans-cash-advances.php https://www.zp-pdl.com займ на карту онлайн

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