Posts Tagged ‘Boris Johnson’

Iran: Nuclear deal ‘depends on full compliance’ from US

January 11, 2018

Iran’s foreign minister said Iran’s agreement to the nuclear deal depends on full compliance from the US, following talks in Brussels. The talks took place ahead of the United States’ sanctions decision due Friday.

Boris Johnson speaking at a news conference in Brussels (Reuters/F.Lenoir)

Britain, France, Germany and the European Union called for the United States to uphold the Iran nuclear deal on Thursday, following a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and his German, French and British counterparts, before the United States makes a decision on sanctions tomorrow.

After the meeting, Zarif said Iran’s promise to curb its nuclear program under the deal signed with six world powers was “conditioned on full compliance” from the US.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the unity of the international community was essential to preserving the Iran nuclear agreement. She said the deal “was working” and “delivering on its main goal, which means keeping the Iranian nuclear program in check and under close surveillance.”

Strong consensus in Brussels today: 1)Iran is complying with , 2)Iranian people have every right to all its dividends, 3)any move that undermines JCPOA is unacceptable. E3 and EU fully aware that Iran’s continued compliance conditioned on full compliance by the US.

Read more: What is the Iran nuclear deal?

Despite EU support for the nuclear deal, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Europe was not seeking to hide other issues with Iran, including its ballistic weapons program. He called on all parties to uphold the agreement, emphasizing that “our American allies should respect it as well. There is no particular reason for any rupture.”

US President Donald Trump will decide on Friday whether to renew his country’s waiver on nuclear-related sanctions, as well as make a decision on Saturday regarding renewing his certification of the 2015 Iran deal.

No ‘better alternative’

British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson said that no better option had been put forward to prevent Iran from constructing nuclear weapons. “I don’t think anybody has so far produced a better alternative … as a way of preventing the Iranians from going ahead with the acquisition of their military nuclear capability,” he said.

Read more: Iran: We will stick to nuclear deal if Europe does

Trump has repeatedly called into question the 2015 nuclear deal and described it as “one of the worst” transactions ever entered into by the US. This criticism was redoubled amid rare street protests in several Iranian cities in recent weeks.

Senior officials told AFP they expect Trump to extend waivers on sanctions against Iran on Friday to keep the US in line with the 2015 deal.

Meanwhile, the European Union has pushed for continued implementation of the nuclear deal, which aims to prevent Iran from constructing nuclear weapons in return for the lifting of sanctions.

Read more: EU rejects Donald Trump’s attempt to dump Iran nuclear deal, saying it works

Gabriel defends deal, but cites other ‘serious problems’

Ahead of the meeting on Thursday, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel described the accord as one of the “core elements of global [nuclear] non-proliferation” efforts. He said that Berlin wanted to work with its EU partners to uphold and implement the deal, saying the motivation for Europe to do so was “overwhelming.”

Gabriel’s British counterpart, Boris Johnson, described the accord as “a crucial agreement that makes the world safer.”

Read more: Iran nuclear deal: What’s next?

But Gabriel said this did not mean that there were not “serious problems separate [from the nuclear deal] that we need to seriously address.”

Despite being outspoken in his criticism of US foreign policy since President Donald Trump took office a year ago, Gabriel has also said the United States was right to address concerns about Iran’s strategy in the Middle East.

Zarif hopes for back-up

In October, Zarif said that Iran would adhere to the 2015 nuclear deal so long as European signatories also remained committed to the agreement.

“The resistance of the Europeans [against the US] will show whether the nuclear agreement can be carried forward or not,” Zarif said.

Read more: Israelis watch closely as Iran protests

Protests began on December 28 over economic issues, Tehran’s Middle East policies and the country’s religious establishment. Eighteen demonstrators were killed and up to 3,700 people have been arrested.

Critics have accused the European Union of failing to condemn Tehran’s response to the recent protests quickly and unequivocally, claiming that this was a bid to avoid undermining the nuclear deal.

In a video message earlier this month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “many European governments watch in silence as heroic young Iranians are beaten in the streets.”

“Brave Iranians are pouring into the streets. They seek freedom. They seek justice. They seek the basic liberties that have been denied to them for decades.”

law/msh (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

http://www.dw.com/en/iran-nuclear-deal-depends-on-full-compliance-from-us/a-42105341

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EU urges US to protect Iran nuclear deal

January 11, 2018

Britain, France, Germany and the EU have urged the US to protect the Iran nuclear deal, after talks with Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in brussels. The talks come ahead of the United States’ sanctions decision.

Mohammed Dschawad Sarif iranischer Außenminister (picture-alliance/AP Photo/R. Drew)

Britain, France, Germany and the European Union called for the United States to preserve the Iran nuclear deal on Thursday, following a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and his German, French and British counterparts, before the United States’ makes a decision on sanctions tomorrow.

Following the meeting, The EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini said the unity of the international community was essential to preserve the Iran nuclear agreement. He said the deal “was working” and “delivering on its main goal which means keeping the Iranian nuclear program in check and under close surveillance.”

Despite EU support for the nuclear deal, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Europe was not seeking to hide other issues with Iran, including its ballistic weapons program.

US President Donald Trump will decide on Friday whether to renew his country’s waiver on nuclear-related sanctions, as well as make a decision on Saturday regarding renewing his certification of the 2015 Iran deal.

No ‘better alternative’

British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson said that no better option had not been put forward as of yet. “I don’t think anybody has so far produced a better alternative … as a way of preventing the Iranians from going ahead with the acquisition of their military nuclear capability,” he said.

Read more: What is the Iran nuclear deal?

Trump has repeatedly called into question the 2015 nuclear deal and described it as “one of the worst” transactions ever entered into by the US. This criticism was redoubled amid rare street protests in several Iranian cities in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, the European Union has pushed for continued implementation of the nuclear deal, which aims to prevent Iran from constructing nuclear weapons in return for the lifting of sanctions.

Read more: EU rejects Donald Trump’s attempt to dump Iran nuclear deal, saying it works

Gabriel defends deal, but cites other ‘serious problems’

Ahead of the meeting on Thursday, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel described the accord as one of the “core elements of global [nuclear] non-proliferation” efforts. He said that Berlin wanted to work with its EU partners to uphold and implement the deal, saying the motivation for Europe to do so was “overwhelming.”

Gabriel’s British counterpart, Boris Johnson, described the accord as “a crucial agreement that makes the world safer.”

But Gabriel said this did not mean that there were not “serious problems separate [from the nuclear deal] that we need to seriously address.”

Despite being outspoken in his criticism of US foreign policy since President Donald Trump took office a year ago, Gabriel has also said the United States was right to address concerns about Iran’s strategy in the Middle East.

The ministers are also expected to discuss a wave of political unrest that has broken out across Iran in the past few weeks.

Read more: Iran nuclear deal: What’s next?

Zarif hopes for back-up

In October, Zarif said that Iran would adhere to the 2015 nuclear deal so long as European signatories also remained committed to the agreement.

“The resistance of the Europeans [against the US] will show whether the nuclear agreement can be carried forward or not,” Zarif said.

Read more: Iran: We will stick to nuclear deal if Europe does

Protests began on December 28 over economic issues, Tehran’s Middle East policies and the country’s religious establishment. Eighteen demonstrators were killed and up to 3,700 people have been arrested.

Critics have accused the European Union of failing to quickly and unequivocally condemn Tehran’s response to the recent protests, claiming that this was a bid to avoid undermining the nuclear deal.

In a video message earlier this month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “many European governments
watch in silence as heroic young Iranians are beaten in the streets.”

“Brave Iranians are pouring into the streets. They seek freedom. They seek justice. They seek the basic liberties that have been denied to them for decades.”

law/msh (AFP, dpa)

http://www.dw.com/en/eu-urges-us-to-protect-iran-nuclear-deal/a-42105341

Jerusalem should be shared capital, UK’s Boris Johnson tells Palestinian FM

January 8, 2018

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. (AFP)

LONDON: Jerusalem should ultimately be the shared capital of Israeli and Palestinian states, British foreign minister Boris Johnson told his Palestinian counterpart Riyad Al-Malki on Monday, a statement from Britain’s foreign office said.

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“I reiterated the UK’s commitment to supporting the Palestinian people and the two-state solution, the urgent need for renewed peace negotiations, and the UK’s clear and longstanding position on the status of Jerusalem,” Johnson said.
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“It should be determined in a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and Jerusalem should ultimately be the shared capital of the Israeli and Palestinian states.
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“The UK-Palestinian relationship is strong and long-standing and it was a pleasure to meet Foreign Minister Riyad al Malki to discuss our shared desire to strengthen it further,” he added.
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“I look forward to continuing good relations with Riyad al Malki and our Palestinian friends throughout 2018 and beyond.”

UK Prime Minister Theresa May expected to reshuffle Cabinet — Expected to clear out the “pale, male and stale” from her ranks

January 8, 2018

Prime Minister May is set to make alterations to her Cabinet in an effort to reassert her authority, according to reports. The move follows several major resignations in May’s government over separate scandals.

Theresa May in Brussels (Reuters/Y. Herman)

The government of British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to undergo a reshuffle on Monday after a series of high-profile departures.

According to government sources, several high-profile ministers should expect to be axed.

While May did not comment on the reshuffle directly, she told the BBC on Sunday that “some changes do have to be made,” and a Labour Party MP, citing information from colleagues in May’s Conservative Party, told French news agency AFP that she would make the changes Monday.

Ministers resign amid numerous scandals

The news comes after May’s confidante and Deputy Prime Minister Damian Green was forced to resign last month over a pornography scandal. Shortly before, Defense Minister Michael Fallon and International Development Minister Priti Patel stepped down in separate controversies.

Fallon resigned in November amid wider sexual harassment allegations in Westminster, while Patel was forced to quit due to unauthorized meetings in Israel.

Key figures like Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond and Brexit Secretary David Davis are expected to keep their jobs, but Education Secretary Justine Greening and Conservative Party chairman Patrick McLoughlin looked likely to be fired in the reshuffle.

According to the right-wing Daily Mail newspaper, May was expected to clear out the “pale, male and stale” from her ranks, and hopes to promote more women and lawmakers from diverse backgrounds in order to build a government that was “more in the image of the country.”

Although May was severely weakened in June when snap elections failed to deliver the Conservative victory she expected, the prime minister has managed to hold on to power throughout the first major round of Brexit negotiations with the European Union.

“I’m not a quitter. I’m in this for the long term,” May told the BBC, adding: “Obviously, I serve as long as the people want me to serve.”

es/rc (AFP, dpa)

http://www.dw.com/en/uk-prime-minister-theresa-may-expected-to-reshuffle-cabinet/a-42057266

Brexit: David Davis warns next round of EU talks will generate same ‘public thunder and lightning’ as first phase

January 3, 2018

The Brexit Secretary also turned the EU’s negotiating mantra against the bloc, claiming it cannot ‘cherry-pick’ the terms of a free trade deal

By Ashley Cowburn Political Correspondent

The Independent

David Davis warns next round Brexit talks will generate same ‘public thunder and lightning’ as first phase
David Davis has warned the next round of Brexit negotiations will generate the same “public thunder and lightning” as the first phase of talks with Brussels last yer.

The Brexit Secretary also used an article to turn the European Union’s negotiating mantra against the bloc, claiming that it cannot “cherrypick” the terms of a free trade deal.

David Davis (left) and Michel Barnier at a news conference in Brussels last year

Britain, he added, wants the “full sweep of economic cooperation” and financial services must not be excluded from any agreement.

But just last month Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, said that financial services will not be included a post-Brexit trade deal, setting the stage for a public confrontation between the UK and Brussels.

“There is not a single trade agreement that is open to financial services,” he said in December. “It doesn’t exist.”

In his article for the Daily Telegraph, Mr Davis said that the negotiations in the coming months will “not be straightforward”, adding: “They will generate the same public thunder and lightning we have seen in the past year.

“But I believe they will be successful, because the future of the Europe continent is best served by strong and successful relationships.”  He continued: “I do not believe the strength of this cooperation needs change because we are leaving the European Union.

“Many of these principles can be applied to services trade too. Given the strength and breadth of the pan-European economic relationship, a deal that took in some areas of our economic relationship but not others would be, in the favoured phrase of EU diplomats, cherrypicking.”

“First, European Council president Donald Tusk has approved an immediate start to discussions on the future relationship, and though EU guidelines will not be agreed until March, when chief negotiator Michel Barnier and his team will be able to confirm their positions, talks about implementation begin in the New Year.”

The Brexit Secretary’s intervention comes amid reports that Theresa May is preparing a New Year shake-up that could see Mr Davis’ role in the Cabinet further weakened if Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, is handed a job directly involved in the negotiations.

It would likely ruffle the feathers of Mr Davis, amid evidence that Mr Davis has already been sidelined as the Prime Minister takes stronger personal control of the Brussels talks.

Olly Robbins, Mr Davis’s former chief of staff, left his department to lead a newly formed European Unit in the Cabinet Office, reporting directly to Ms May.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-latest-updates-david-davis-eu-talks-michel-barnier-trade-deal-agreement-theresa-may-a8137486.html

Theresa May Plans Cabinet Shake-Up With Five Ministers Going, Times Says

December 31, 2017

Bloomberg

By Thomas Biesheuvel

  • Shuffle of cabinet expected in January, Sunday Times reports
  • Chancellor safe, May aides want new Brexit role for Johnson
Theresa May, U.K. prime minister, gestures while speaking during a news conference at the European Commission building in Brussels, Belgium, on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017. Photographer: Dario Pignatelli/Bloomberg

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is planning to make major changes to her cabinet in the new year, possibly sacking as many as five ministers, according to the Sunday Times.

May has decided to bring younger members of Parliament into her government as part of a series of steps aimed at convincing voters she can do more than Brexit, the newspaper reported, without saying how it obtained the information.

The ministers who could lose their jobs are:

  • Patrick McLoughlin, Conservative party chairman
  • Justine Greening, education secretary
  • Greg Clark, business secretary
  • Chris Grayling, transport secretary
  • Andrea Leadsom, leader of the House of Commons

May’s aides also want a new Brexit role for Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, though the newspaper says his supporters would see this as a demotion. Chancellor Philip Hammond is set to keep his job.

Other possible changes identified by the Times include:

  • Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt replacing Damian Green in his cabinet office role, but without the title of first secretary of state, or deputy premier
  • Brandon Lewis to take over as party chairman
  • Dominic Raab and Damian Hinds to enter the cabinet, with no specific assignments mentioned by the Times

Green, who was dismissed by May on Dec. 20 after making misleading statements during an investigation, was the third member of her cabinet to leave office since the start of November. Defense Secretary Michael Fallon quit over inappropriate sexual behavior while Priti Patel stepped down as international development secretary after she misled the premier over private meetings with Israeli officials.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-31/may-plans-cabinet-shake-up-with-five-ministers-going-times-says

Boris Johnson clashes with Russian Sergei Lavrov over election meddling — ‘Sergei, it’s your reputation I’m worried about’

December 23, 2017

Moscow: Boris Johnson confronted Russia on Friday over attempts to meddle in British elections as his Moscow visit descended into a slanging match.

The Foreign Secretary said Russia tried to derail British democracy, prompting Sergei Lavrov, his counterpart, to accuse him of “making up” allegations of interference in Brexit.

The exchanges, played out in front of journalists and diplomats, saw the men accuse each other of dishonesty.

As Mr Lavrov denied any undermining of Britain’s democratic processes by computer hacking, Mr Johnson interrupted, saying none of the attempts had been successful and pointedly referred to Russian interference in elections around the world.

Mr Johnson refused to answer when asked if he trusted Mr Lavrov, despite the Russian minister saying he trusted the Foreign Secretary. Mr Johnson later joked that he had handed his coat and hat to Mr Lavrov in a show of trust and affection.

“There was nothing in the pockets,” Mr Lavrov said, prompting Mr Johnson to reply in surprise: “You’ve checked? How do you know?”

The meeting was an attempt to break the deadlock between the two states before talks on North Korea and Syria. But tensions rose after Mr Johnson said ahead of the visit that the UK was ready and able to respond to Russian aggression at any moment.

Mr Lavrov said: “Our relations are at a low level, and not because of our side.” He added: “You prefer to talk about the reasons publicly. Whereas we would prefer to talk about our reasons not through the microphone but directly.”

The row was reignited when Mr Lavrov claimed Mr Johnson had deliberately contradicted him in a bid to protect his reputation with the British media, prompting the UK foreign secretary to hit back: “Sergei, it’s your reputation I’m worried about”.

He added: “Russian attempts to interfere in our referendums and elections, whatever they might be, have not been successful.” Had they been successful, he said, “that would have been an entirely different matter”.

Mr Lavrov responded: “I think you have made all this up in your Western community and unfortunately right now you are hostage to this subject, it is very difficult for you to climb down from the fence.”

The evidence produced so far of Russian attempts at interference amounted to no more than the spending of “a few kopecks” on social media adverts, he said.

“I can’t remember any actions of Russia that would have been aggressive towards the UK,” he added.

“We never accused London of anything. On the contrary we heard some accusations – sometimes in an insulting manner – against us that we allegedly support the criminal regime in Syria, that we are aggressors and occupiers and annex someone’s territories.”

In a move likely to further aggravate his hosts, Mr Johnson laid roses on a Moscow bridge where opposition leader Alexander Nemtsov was murdered in 2015. An admirer of Margaret Thatcher, he had tried to make Russia a more democratic and free market state.

Telegraph, London

Includes video:

http://www.smh.com.au/world/boris-johnson-clashes-with-russian-sergei-lavrov-over-election-meddling-20171222-h09m8u.html

Boris Johnson confronts Moscow over allegations of Brexit meddling

December 22, 2017

Boris Johnson’s visit to Moscow descended into a slanging match as the Russians accused him of “making up” allegations of Brexit meddling in an ugly public disagreement.

Mr Johnson’s trip to Moscow, the first undertaken by a UK foreign secretary in five years, was aimed at breaking the deadlock between the two nations.

But the Foreign secretary and his counterpart traded blows over allegations of Russian hacking in British elections as Mr Johnson became the first to officially call the nation out on its actions.

The extraordinary exchanges, which played out in front of journalists and diplomats, saw the two men accuse each other of being dishonest as Mr Lavrov claimed there had been no attempts to derail the British democratic process via cyber hacking.

Interrupting, Mr Johnson rejected the claim, stating instead that none of the attempts had been successful and pointedly referring to widespread Russian interference in elections around the world.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, right, meets his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, in Moscow
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, right, meets his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, in Moscow CREDIT:ANDREW PARSONS FOR THE TELEGRAPH

It came as Mr Johnson refused pointedly to answer when asked if he trusted his counterpart Sergei Lavrov or not, despite the Russian minister saying that he did.

Later, as the two men wrapped up the press conference after a two hour bi-lateral meeting which was at times fraught, the British foreign secretary joked that he had handed his coat and hat over to Mr Lavrov in a show of trust and affection.

“There was nothing in the pockets”, Mr Lavrov said, prompting Mr Johnson to reply in surprise: “You’ve checked. How do you know!”.

Boris Johnson, left, and Sergei Lavrov during a press conference following their meeting in Moscow
Boris Johnson, left, and Sergei Lavrov during a press conference following their meeting in MoscowCREDIT: ANDREW PARSONS FOR THE TELEGRAPH

The meeting in Moscow was an attempt to break the deadlock between the two states in order to start work on important international issues like North Korea and Syria.

But tensions were exposed over cyber security, following claims made by Mr Johnson ahead of the visit that the UK is ready and able to respond to Russian aggression at any moment.

Speaking ahead of the meeting Mr Lavrov pointed remarked on the press coverage of the poor relations between the countries, telling Mr Johnson and the British delegation: “Our relations are at a low level, and not because of our side”

He added: “You prefer to talk about the reasons publicly.

“Whereas we would prefer to talk about our reasons for mutual concern not through the microphone but directly.”

Boris Johnson and Sergei Lavrov enter a hall during a meeting in Moscow
Boris Johnson and Sergei Lavrov enter a hall during a meeting in Moscow CREDIT: ANDREW PARSONS FOR THE TELEGRAPH

The row was reignited during a later press conference when Mr Lavrov claimed Mr Johnson had deliberately contradicted him in a bid to protect his reputation with the British media, prompting the UK foreign secretary to hit back: “It’s your reputation I’m worried about Sergei”.

He added: “Russian attempts to interfere in our referendums and elections, whatever they might be, have not been successful.”

Had they been successful, he said, “that would have been an entirely different matter”.

Mr Lavrov responded that “the absence of action can never result in anything” and asked to see “concrete facts” about their alleged unsuccessful attempts.

“I think you have made all this up in your Western community and unfortunately right now you are hostage to this subject, it is very difficult for you to climb down from the fence you have climbed.”

The evidence produced so far of Russian attempts at interference amounted to no more than the spending of “a few kopecks” on social media adverts, he said.

Mr Lavrov also criticised Britain for cutting off ties with the FSB security agency over the murder of Alexander Litvinenko in London, complaining that UK authorities had refused to hand over information in the case.

He said that the takeover of Crimea had been approved by a referendum of its citizens unlike the break-up of the former Yugoslavia.

Boris Johnson and Sergey Lavrov
Boris Johnson and Sergey Lavrov meet in Moscow CREDIT: REUTERS

And he said that UK government criticism of politicians who speak to Russian media outlets like the RT TV channel did not reflect well on the UK, after David Gauke accused the station of being a propaganda tool.

“We are concerned that the cradle of democracy, the United Kingdom, sees the vilifying of people for speaking to Russian media,” he said. “It doesn’t add to the good reputation of the Government unfortunately.”

Mr Lavrov protested that Russia had done nothing to deserve its reputation for hostility towards the UK.

“I can’t remember any actions of Russia that would have been aggressive towards the UK,” he said.

“We never accused London of anything. On the contrary we heard some accusations – sometimes formulated in an insulting manner – against us that we allegedly support the criminal regime in Syria, that we are aggressors and occupiers and annex someone’s territories.

“We hear aggressive statements from London, from the media, from the leadership and from officials. Despite all that, we have never taken aggressive measures to reciprocate.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/12/22/boris-johnson-clashes-russian-counterpart-cyber-war-threat-moscow/

Related:

UK’s Boris Johnson to Russia: Stop destabilizing Europe or else

December 22, 2017

MOSCOW (Reuters) – British foreign minister Boris Johnson will tell his Russian counterpart on Friday that there can be no “business as usual” until Moscow stops “destabilising” Europe and that Britain is ready to retaliate against any cyber attacks..Johnson is due to hold talks in Moscow with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during what is the first visit to Russia by a British foreign minister in five years. He is also expected to meet Kremlin critics, students, and gay rights activists..

Johnson’s visit comes at a time when relations between London and Moscow are strained by differences over Ukraine and Syria as well as by allegations, which Russia flatly denies, of it meddling in the politics of various European countries and of backing cyber attacks and disinformation campaigns.

“Our relations with Russia cannot be ‘business as usual’ whilst Russia continues to attempt to destabilise European states, including Ukraine,” Johnson said in a statement released by his office before the talks.

 Image result for Lavrov, Boris Johnson, photos
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) and British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson enter a hall during a meeting in Moscow, Russia December 22, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

While traveling to Moscow on Thursday, Johnson told reporters that Britain disapproved of many things that Russia had done. He singled out its 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea, what he called Moscow’s destabilising of the western Balkans, and its cyber activities.

“As you would expect the UK has its own (cyber) capabilities and we are ready of course to defend our interests,” he said.

But Johnson also stressed his desire for London and Moscow to cooperate where they have common interests, saying it was vital for international security that the two countries talk to each other because not doing so risked potentially dangerous misunderstandings.

Johnson says he wants to discuss working with Moscow to preserve the Iran nuclear deal and the threat posed by North Korea, as well as security arrangements for next year’s soccer World Cup which will be held in Russia.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday that the decision to scale back British-Russian dialogue had been London’s however, and had been groundless and untimely.

Johnson riled Russian officials before his visit by likening Russia to the ancient Greek city state of Sparta in an interview with Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper, saying Moscow was “closed, nasty, militaristic and anti-democratic – like Sparta.”

Zakharova has previously called Johnson unprofessional, organized an online cartoon competition that mocked him, and strongly disputed his assertions about Syria.

When asked before his trip what she made of Johnson’s statements criticizing Moscow, Zakharova said they had caused only laughter in Russia and were not worth getting upset about because they had come from Boris Johnson.

Reporting by Andrew Osborn Additional reporting by William James in London; Editing by Jeremy Gaunt/Dmitry Solovyov

See also:

Boris Johnson claims Russia’s hostility to UK and West is as bad as Cold War

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/boris-johnson-latest-russia-uk-west-hostility-cold-war-putin-foreign-secretary-a8115086.html

Moscow says it was London’s decision to scale back UK-Russia dialogue

December 21, 2017

Reuters

MOSCOW (Reuters) – The decision to scale back British-Russian dialogue was a groundless and untimely decision by London, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday, on the eve of British foreign minister Boris Johnson’s visit to Moscow.

Johnson’s visit on Dec. 22 for talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov to discuss international security issues will be the first visit to Russia by a British foreign minister in five years.

Reporting by Andrew Osborn; Writing by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Alison Williams