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Russia-Britain Relations Sour After Expulsion of Diplomats

Russia expelled four British diplomats Thursday, days after England did the same in protest of Russia refusing to extradite a suspect in the murder investigation of a former Russian spy. A reporter provides an update.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    That spat between Russia and Britain. We begin with a report by Julian Manyon of Independent Television News.

  • JULIAN MANYON, ITV News Correspondent:

    In mid-afternoon, the British ambassador, Anthony Brenton, boarded his Range Rover and drove the short distance to the Stalin-era tower that houses the Russian foreign ministry. When he emerged 15 minutes later, he said little. But soon, a Russian spokesman announced the tit-for-tat expulsion of four British diplomats and an end to cooperation with Britain in the war against terror.

  • MIKHAIL KAMYNIN, Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Russia (through translator):

    Russia has not been seeking conflicts with Britain. The position taken by their new Labour government is based on anything but common sense.

  • JULIAN MANYON:

    In London, the new foreign secretary, David Miliband, delivered a firm reply.

  • DAVID MILIBAND, Foreign Secretary, United Kingdom:

    Good afternoon. The decision to expel four embassy staff is completely unjustified, and we will be doing everything to ensure that they and their families are properly looked after.

  • JULIAN MANYON:

    Russia has once again made it clear that Andrei Lugovoi will not be extradited to Britain.

    Is the Russian government trying to escalate the situation?

  • ANDREI ZOLOTOV, Journalist:

    No, I don't think so. If they expel more diplomats, then we will see it as escalating. I mean, and this is just simply kind of what they have to do by the rules of the game into which they've been drawn.

  • JULIAN MANYON:

    The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, seems determined to keep the crisis at arm's length. Today, he attended a folk festival in the Russian countryside. Accusations against him continue to circulate in the West, but Putin clearly believes that he can ride out the storm.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Ray Suarez takes it from there.

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