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Spy case sours UK's Russia trade trip

Monday, September 12, 2011 - 02:26

Sept.12 - British Prime Minister David Cameron holds landmark talks with Russian leaders on Monday, aiming to strengthen business and political ties with Moscow despite a long-running dispute over the murder of a Kremlin critic in London five years ago. Matt Cowan reports

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It's the first time a British Prime Minister has visited Russia since the death of a former Russian spy by poisoning in 2006 ignited a diplomatic row between the two nations. In a speech at Moscow State University, David Cameron stressed the common challenges they confront. SOUNDBITE: DAVID CAMERON, UK PRIME MINISTER, SAYING (English): "Moscow and London have both been victims of horrific terrorist attack. We need to unite against the threat of terrorism, the warped ideology that underpins it, we need to work together with our international partners to prevent countries like Iran acquiring nuclear weapons and as new technologies develop, to allow us to defend ourselves better against the threat of ballistic missiles from rogue states, we need to cooperate to ensure they make us all safer, not compete against each other in a new arms race." Accompanied by a high-powered delegation of senior business leaders, including the heads of BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Rolls-Royce Cameron's main message was to call for closer business ties. His office estimates the whistlestop tour will seal around 345 million dollars worth of business deals, creating nearly 500 new jobs in Britain. However, Russa's refusal to extradite a key suspect in the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko means that behind the carefully staged photo ops, tensions remain. SOUNDBITE: DAVID CAMERON, UK PRIME MINISTER, SAYING (English): "Yes there remain difficult issues that hamper mutual trust and cooperation, there are extradition cases Russia wants to pursue and we still disagree with you on the Litvinenko case. On that, let me say this, our approach is simple and principled. when a crime is committed, that is a matter for the courts. It is their job to examine the evidence impartially and to determine innocence or guilt." Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev quickly rebuffed the renewed extradition call, saying that would never happen. SOUNDBITE: RUSSIAN PRESIDENT DMITRY MEDVEDEV, SAYING (Russian) : "Article 61 of the Russian Constitution directly establishes that a Russian citizen cannot be extradited or given to a foreign country for a court process or an investigation of that person. This will never be the case, no matter what happens." Cameron visit - which will last less than 24 hours - fits with his strategy of looking to boost exports to fast growing emering economies to help fuel Britain's weak recovery. But it also draws attention to the fractures in the relationship with Russia. Matt Cowan, Reuters.

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Spy case sours UK's Russia trade trip

Monday, September 12, 2011 - 02:26