UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson arrives in Moscow on Friday with a working visit, during which he is expected to have talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) — In an interview with RIA Novosti ahead of the official visit to Moscow Boris Johnson said that London respected Russia’s desire to defend its interests in Syria, adding that he looks forward to hearing Lavrov’s views on the future of Syria. Johnson also suggested that Moscow and London could still work together on the issue of the Iran nuclear deal and the North Korean nuclear program.
“During the talks, it is planned to discuss the state and prospects of the Russian-UK relations with the aim of seeking ways for their normalization and increased bilateral cooperation… We hope that the UK side will not make any adjustments to this agenda,” Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday at a daily briefing, adding that the upcoming meeting between Lavrov and Johnson is “long awaited news.”
Earlier, UK Foreign Secretary said that the relations between the United Kingdom and Russia were far from normal.
“[The UK-Russian relationship] can’t be ‘business as usual’ because we have some serious obstructions in our relationship which we must be frank about and you know what they are. You know the list of problems: our disagreements about ongoing destabilization in Ukraine, disagreements about Syria … our anxieties about what is going on in cyberspace, the Western Balkans and so on,” Johnson said, adding that the two countries still had to work together on a number of issues.
Boris Jones also noted that a lot of “very, very good work” is being done behind the scenes of politics “in order to assist trade and peace.”
Meantime, Russian lower house International Affairs Committee Chairman Leonid Slutsky expressed hope that Johnson’s visit will bring “some constructiveness” to the bilateral relations and provide an opportunity to discuss a number of international issues, such as the fight against terrorism, crises in Syria, Libya and the Middle East in general, and the possible visit of Lavrov to the United Kingdom.
However, Elizabeth Jones, member of UKIP National Executive committee, said on Thursday that Johnson’s visit to Moscow was “a symbolic move,” but still a positive sign for bilateral relations.
“The most important steps forward that Boris can make is to open the door to trade and direct foreign investment – us [UK] in Russia, you [Russia] in the UK. This is all what it’s all about, making both our countries richer and ensuring that we continue to have the flow of intellectual ideas, the flow of creativity and culture between our countries,” she stated.
The relations between Moscow and London have deteriorated over the past few years against the backdrop of the ongoing crisis in eastern Ukraine and Crimea’s reunification with Russia in 2014.