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'We need to make sure Sweden-Russia relationship is not based on lies'

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'We need to make sure Sweden-Russia relationship is not based on lies'
Margot Wallström and Sergey Lavrov. Photo: AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev
15:59 CET+01:00
Sweden's foreign minister Margot Wallström met her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow on Tuesday in an attempt to thaw frosty ties between the two countries.

Tuesday's meeting was seen partly as a move to start anew.

"We have had very good talks," Lavrov told reporters at a press conference in Moscow.

"Our relationship is not going through its best period, but because the disagreements are well known I need not elaborate on them. But we decided that these disagreements do not have to disturb us," the Russian foreign minister continued.

Relations between Sweden and Russia have been strained in recent years, with Swedish security services reporting that Russian spies are operating in the country and Russia in turn accusing Sweden of peddling "James Bond theories" instead of using diplomatic channels to discuss its fears. 

Tuesday's press conference was delayed by an hour after prolonged talks about the Russian intervention in Ukraine and annexation of Crimea in 2014, which Sweden has strongly criticized. Russia on the other hand claims it was legitimately defending its interests and disputes the "annexation" label.

"We have different opinions on issues such as Ukraine and Crimea, and I appreciate that we are able to discuss it in a direct and honest manner as neighbours," said Wallström.

She later told Swedish media that they had also spoken about disinformation campaigns, which Russia has been accused of (and denies) conducting in Sweden.

"We talked about the image of Russia in Sweden and the image of Sweden in Russia and about how this is problematic. We need to make sure that there is correct information and that our relationship at least is not based on pure lies and oddities," she told newswire TT.

READ ALSO: Russia accused of spreading fake news in Sweden

Sergey Lavrov's comments were given in Russian and translated into English by The Local based on a Swedish translation by the TT news agency.

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