Malloch-Brown makes up with Moscow

Moscow wooed by London before G20 summit
Moscow wooed by London before G20 summit

By Alex Stevenson

Foreign Office minister Mark Malloch-Brown is in Moscow as Britain and Russia seek to repair recently strained diplomatic relations ahead of the G20 summit.

Lord Malloch-Brown is meeting foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, deputy finance minister Sergey Shatalov and other senior officials as the G20 summit in London looms large.

The row over murdered former spy Alexander Litvinenko, Russian hostility to the British Council and condemnation of Russia's actions in South Ossetia last year have all helped lower the diplomatic temperature between Moscow and London.

But understands Russia, encouraged by the resumption of ties with Nato broken over the August 2008 Georgia crisis, is eager to recover its good standing with the west - especially Britain.

According to a senior Russian diplomat, president Dmitry Medvedev is keen to establish a good personal rapport with prime minister Gordon Brown in a one-to-one meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit on April 2nd.

Russia and Britain have significant trade links which limit the extent to which relations can be strained. Britain is the largest investor in Russia and UK exports to Russia rose by 46 per cent last year to £4.1 billion, according to the Foreign Office.

Enthusiasm for improved relations may be tempered by Russia's negotiating stance at the G20, however.

Russia is expected to express reservations over western demands that countries like China curb their carbon emissions in a bid to tackle climate change.

And there remains frustration within Russia about opposition to Moscow's intervention in Georgia, with suspicions of "hypocrisy and double standards" still rankling.

Such objections are not expected to result in a failure to reach agreement in London, however.


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