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UK to call for new Russia response unit at G7: Buzzfeed quoting Johnson

LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Theresa May will propose to world leaders that they should create an international rapid response unit to counter Russian cyber attacks and assassinations, her foreign minister Boris Johnson was quoted as saying.

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street in London, June 7, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Website Buzzfeed News also said on Thursday that Johnson had joked that U.S. President Donald Trump would be good at negotiating a Brexit deal with the European Union and there was “method in his madness”.

Buzzfeed said Johnson made the comments in a private meeting with activists from his Conservative Party on Wednesday. Buzzfeed said it had obtained an audio recording of Johnson’s comments at the meeting.

Johnson, whose political career has been punctuated by a string of gaffes, said May would use a meeting of leaders of the Group of Seven rich nations, which begins in Canada on Friday, to call for a new response unit to tackle threats from Russia.

“She will be putting forward a British plan that will have global support to set up a rapid response unit to identify Russian malfeasance...whether it’s cyber warfare, assassinations, calling it out and identifying it,” he was quoted as saying.

“One of the problems is Russia is so good at spreading violence,” he continued. “They’re brilliant at it. We need to identify it and call it out.”

No one was immediately available to comment at Britain’s foreign ministry.

Ties between Britain and Moscow have deteriorated after May accused Russia of being responsible for an attack using a nerve agent on a former Russian spy and his daughter in southern England in March. Moscow has denied any responsibility.

Buzzfeed said Johnson told Wednesday’s meeting that he was “increasingly admiring” of Trump.

“I have become more and more convinced that there is method in his madness,” he was quoted as saying. “Imagine Trump doing Brexit. He’d go in bloody hard... There’d be all sorts of breakdowns, all sorts of chaos. Everyone would think he’d gone mad. But actually you might get somewhere.”

Additional reporting by Andrew MacAskill; Writing by William Schomberg