Putin, May agree to meet to improve ties

MOSCOW • Russian President Vladimir Putin and British Prime Minister Theresa May have spoken by phone and agreed to meet "in the near future" to try to improve poor relations between Moscow and London, the Kremlin said in a statement.

Both leaders are due to attend a Group of 20 summit in China early next month, giving them an opportunity to meet for the first time since Mrs May became prime minister last month.

Relations between Russia and Britain are strained by differences over Ukraine and Syria as well as by what London says is a sharp increase in flights by long-range Russian bombers near British airspace.

The Kremlin said both leaders had agreed to try to work to ensure the two countries' intelligence services communicated with each other properly and to improve air safety, a reference to Russian military flights.

Both leaders had expressed dissatisfaction about the current state of relations, the Kremlin said, adding that the phone call on Tuesday had taken place at Britain's initiative.

A spokesman for Mrs May said both leaders had agreed that British and Russian citizens faced common threats from terrorism, and that cooperation on aviation security was a vital part of the international counter-terrorism effort.

"The Prime Minister noted the importance of the relationship between the UK and Russia, and expressed the hope that, despite differences on certain issues, they could communicate in an open and honest way about the issues that mattered most to them," the spokesman said in a statement.

"They look forward to seeing each other at the G-20 summit in China next month."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 11, 2016, with the headline 'Putin, May agree to meet to improve ties'. Subscribe