Russian president aiming to improve relations with Britain, Kremlin says
Vladimir Putin will meet Theresa May at this weeks G20 summit in Japan with a view to seeking improved relations between the countries, the Kremlin said on Wednesday.
The outgoing UK prime ministers spokesman stressed that the meeting with the Russian president did not represent a normalisation of ties.
Bilateral relations plunged to post-cold war lows last year when London blamed Moscow for poisoning former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with a nerve agent in the English city of Salisbury.
Moscow denies involvement in the attack, which prompted the biggest wave of diplomatic expulsions between Moscow and the west since the cold war.
The leaders will talk over sensitive questions as you know there are many of them, Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov told reporters at a briefing. If any kind of opportunity can be found in our relations with Britain to establish new cooperation, then we will only welcome that.
The G20 summit takes place in Osaka on Friday and Saturday.
Mays spokesman said her position on Salisbury and Russias wider pattern of malign behaviour was well known. This meeting is an important opportunity to deliver this message leader-to-leader to ensure the UKs position is fully understood, he said.
May last met Putin at a G20 summit in Argentina in November, when the Russian leader approached her informally.
Putin said this month that the two countries should turn a page on the Skripal episode and that he hoped Britains next prime minister would move on from it to improve ties.
British prosecutors have charged two Russian military intelligence officers, known by the aliases Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, with attempted murder in their absence over the attack. They deny involvement.