Boris Johnson is traveling to Russia for "high-level" talks

 
Courtney Goldsmith
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Boris Johnson will soon jet off to Russia (Source: Getty)

Foreign secretary Boris Johnson will travel to Moscow for "high-level" talks in the coming weeks, making him the first minister to travel to Russia for a state visit in more than five years.

The talks will focus on UK-Russia relations and international issues like Syria and Ukraine where the two countries "continue to have significant differences", said a spokesperson for the foreign and commonwealth office.

Britain has clashed with Russia over its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the civil war in his country, and the UK backed sanctions against Russia in response to its annexation of Crimea in 2014.

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"This is not a return to business as usual and the foreign secretary will continue to be robust on those issues where we differ," the spokesperson said.

Johnson accepted the invitation from Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, and details of the timings are yet to be confirmed.

The spokesperson said the visit is consistent with the UK's "engage but beware" approach towards Russia, and that Britain will engage with Russia "where it is in our national interest to do so".

A visit has been in the pipeline since Prime Minister Theresa May and Russian President Putin discussed it at their meeting in China in September 2016.

Britain has also accused Russia of hacking, and the UK's defence minister has accused the country of "weaponising misinformation".

The last British foreign minister to visit Moscow was William Hague in 2012.

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