U.K.'s Boris Johnson to visit Russia, first in 5 years

By Amy R. Connolly   |   March 4, 2017 at 7:38 AM
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March 4 (UPI) -- U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson announced plans to travel to Russia to focus on U.K.-Russia relations and Russia's involvement in Syria and Ukraine, marking the first diplomatic visit to Moscow in more than five years.

Johnson will travel to Moscow to meet with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, in the coming weeks to discuss issues "where we continue to have significant differences," the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said.

"This is not a return to business as usual and the foreign secretary will continue to be robust on those issues where we differ," the office said. "We have always been clear that the U.K. will engage with Russia where it is in our national interest to do so."

The visit "has been in the pipeline for some time" and comes after Prime Minister Theresa May met Russian President Vladimir Putin in China in September, officials said.

Johnson has been highly critical of Russia's involvement in Syria, accusing Moscow of war crimes and bolstering Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's claim.

"The prime minister and the foreign secretary have made clear that our policy towards Russia is to 'engage but beware' and the visit is entirely consistent with this approach," officials said.

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