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1ST LEAD Report: Britain considering Russian request to see Yulia Skripal By Silvia Kusidlo and Rachel More, dpa

By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
London (dpa) - Britain‘s Foreign Office said it is considering a request from Russia to see Yulia Skripal, whose condition has improved after she was poisoned in the city of Salisbury in early March.

Skripal is the daughter of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal, both of whom fell ill following the alleged chemical weapon attack on March 4. The elder Skripal remains in a critical but stable condition.

British authorities have accused the Russian state of committing the attack with a Russian-developed nerve agent identified as Novichok. The toxin is believed to have been placed on the family‘s front door.

The Foreign Office in London is considering Moscow‘s "requests for consular access in line with our obligations under international and domestic law," while also taking into account "the rights and wishes of Yulia Skripal," the Press Association reported on Saturday, citing a ministry spokeswoman.

Russia reportedly made the request on Friday.

The attack in Salisbury, around 150 kilometres south-west of London, has touched off a diplomatic showdown between Britain and Russia, with both countries having expelled 23 diplomats.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has also ordered Britain to reduce the number of staff members at its embassy and consulates in Russia to a level that matches the number of such Russian staff in Britain.

Russia has adamantly denied any state involvement in the attack.

The spat showed no sign of cooling off over the weekend, when officials at London‘s Heathrow Airport searched an Aeroflot plane prior to its departure to Moscow. The Russian embassy described the move as "another blatant provocation by the British authorities."

The British Interior Minister described the incident as routine.

"It is routine for Border Force to search aircraft to protect the UK from organized crime and from those who attempt to bring harmful substances like drugs or firearms into the country," Security Minister Ben Wallace said.

Britain‘s Metropolitan Police, which is coordinating investigations into the Skripals‘ poisoning, said on Twitter it was not involved in the search of the aircraft.

The Russian embassy accused British officials of trying to search the plan "without the crew being present, something categorically prohibited by the rules in force."


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