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  1. ITV Report

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to visit Russia for high-level talks

The Foreign Secretary will travel to Russia for high-level talks. Credit: PA

Boris Johnson will travel to Russia for high-level talks in the coming weeks, the Foreign Office (FCO) has said.

Mr Johnson will be the first Foreign Secretary to travel to Moscow for an official visit in more than five years after accepting an invitation from Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

An FCO spokeswoman said Prime Minister Theresa May and Mr Johnson have made clear that the UK's policy "towards Russia is to ‘engage but beware’ and the visit is entirely consistent with this approach."

They added that discussions "will focus on the UK-Russia relationship and current international issues including Syria and Ukraine, where we continue to have significant differences".

ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen said a FCO source had said it could be a "tough meeting".

Could the meeting herald a potential thaw in relations UK relations with Russia? Credit: PA

"This is not a return to business as usual and the Foreign Secretary will continue to be robust on those issues where we differ."

"We have always been clear that the UK will engage with Russia where it is in our national interest to do so."

The spokeswoman added that a potential visit had been "in the pipeline for some time" with Mrs May and President Putin discussing this when they met in China last September.

Theresa May and Russian President Vladimir Putin previously discussed a potential visit. Credit: PA

Government sources have said the visit does not represent an attempt to reset relations with Russia.

They stressed that this could not happen while Moscow maintains its current stance on the situation in Ukraine.

The Foreign Secretary is said to given personal assurances to Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko that Britain is not changing its position towards Russia and he will convey a "tough message" on the situation in the country to Moscow.