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Medvedev, Brown Talk Politics, Economics By Phone

Gordon Brown (left) and Dmitry Medvedev at the G8 summit in Tokyo in July

Gordon Brown (left) and Dmitry Medvedev at the G8 summit in Tokyo in July

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev held a telephone conversation with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to discuss the global crisis and bilateral ties, in a possible sign of a thaw in the two nations' icy relations.

Ties between Moscow and London sank to their lowest level since the Cold War after the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, a former state security agent turned Kremlin critic, in November 2006 with a radioactive substance in a London hotel.

Russia has repeatedly spurned Britain's demands for the extradition of a man accused by London of killing Litvinenko.

The Kremlin said on November 3 that Medvedev and Brown had discussed by phone preparations for the November 15 summit of the G20 leading industrial and developing economies in Washington, which will tackle the global financial crisis.

"Both sides underlined the importance of coordinating their positions in the run-up to this crucial event," the Kremlin said in a statement. "Touching upon the bilateral relations, Medvedev and Brown positively assessed latest Russian-British contacts held at various levels, noting the importance of keeping up the dialogue and agreeing to continue contacts in the nearest future."

In a likely sign of Moscow's willingness to remove another thorny issue in its ties with London, a Russian court last month threw out most of the tax claims filed by authorities against the British government's cultural arm, the British Council.

As bilateral ties deteriorated over the past two years, the Russian government forced the closure of some of the British Council's regional offices, saying they were not legal, and tax inspectors filed claims against it.

But high-level ministerial contact has now resumed and Britain sent a new ambassador to Moscow last month.