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Russia: Ivanov Due In London To Discuss Kosovo, NATO Relations

  • Ben Partridge

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov arrives in London for a two-day official visit. The visit had originally been scheduled for last May but was canceled by Moscow to protest the NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia. Our correspondent in London previews Ivanov's visit and the likely focus of discussions.

London, 21 July 1999 (RFE/RL) -- Ivanov is due to have talks with British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook tomorrow and later will meet Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The agenda for the talks includes European and international security issues in the wake of the Kosovo conflict, its implications for bilateral relations, and future relations between Russia and NATO.

A Russian embassy spokesman in London told our correspondent that the two sides are also expected to discuss other conflict areas, probably including Iraq and the Middle East.

Russia froze relations with NATO when the alliance began its air strikes on Yugoslavia in March aimed at ending Serb repression of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. Relations with the west are still strained, but tensions have eased somewhat since the end of the air campaign.

Russia helped to broker the peace deal between NATO and Belgrade and is contributing more than 3,500 peacekeeping troops to the NATO-led mission in Kosovo.

On the eve of the London visit, Ivanov said he wanted to repair relations with the NATO allies. But he made clear his country is still angry with NATO and suspicious of the motives behind the bombings.

In a symbolic gesture aimed at improving relations, Ivanov and Cook will exchange documents from the Russian and British archives. Russian embassy spokesman Vladimir Andreyev said:

"The British side will present the Russian foreign minister with some papers from British archives on the death of Tsar Nicholas."

The documents give a British diplomatic perspective on the murder of the tsar and his family by Bolshevik revolutionaries in Yekaterinburg in 1918 and include the findings of a British investigation.

In return, Ivanov will hand to his British counterpart documents from the Russian archives on British servicemen who were taken prisoner by the Nazis during World War II.

A British Foreign Office spokesman says the ceremony is evidence of the consolidation of confidence between the two countries. It will end with the signing of an agreement between Russia and Britain on future exchanges of archival documents.

Ivanov will tomorrow lay a wreath at the Soviet War Memorial in central London. Ivanov and Cook will give a joint press conference tomorrow.