LONDON, Oct. 11 -- Queen Elizabeth II's visit to Russia, the first ever by a reigning British monarch, is to seal the improved relationship between the two countries, Foreign Office officials said Tuesday. 'This is a visit of enormous political importance,' a Foreign Office official said. 'It sets the seal on a new spirit of partnership between us.' She will arrive in Moscow for the four-day visit Monday Oct. 17 accompanied by her husband the Duke of Edinburgh and British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd. The official said the point of the state visit was not to sign any specific political agreements, but to generate goodwill which would benefit British interests in general terms. The visit would prompt renewed interest and investment in Russia. It was important for Russia to attract higher levels of foreign investment, he said. The queen, who is the first cousin twice removed of the last Tsar Nicholas II, is the first reigning British monarch to visit Russian soil. King Edward VII had dinner with Tsar Alexander III in Russian waters off the coast of Talinn and a number of British kings in waiting visited Russia, but never a reigning British monarch. The queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will be the guests of President Boris Yeltsin and his wife, while Hurd will meet with his Russian counterpart Andrei Kozyrev. The foreign secretaries are likely to discuss the Middle East, Iraq, eastern Europe and in particular Bosnia, a Foreign Office official said.
He said the British government was impressed with the extent to which the Russian government had stuck to economic reform. In the course of this year political and economic stability in Russia had increased, he added. The official said Britain was trying to draw Russia into a more consultative relationship to share the responsibility for global political and economic stability. The talks between Hurd and Kozyrev were a good opportunity to further improve Anglo-Russian relations. The queen will spend two days in Moscow where she will visit the Kremlin, lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, hold a state banquet at the Kremlin and meet the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church. She will then travel to St. Petersburg for two days where she will hold a banquet aboard Her Majesty's Yacht Britannia, visit the Hermitage museum and lay a wreath at Piskarevskoye cemetery to commemorate those who died in the siege of Leningrad in 1941-42. During the queen's stay in Moscow a one-day high level commercial conference will be hosted aboard the HMY Britannia bringing together senior financial figures from Britain and Russia.