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13 Sep, 2008 12:15

No 'F' in diplomacy

The Russian Foreign Ministry has denied claims made in a blog from Britain’s Telegraph newspaper that Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov repeatedly used the F-word in a telephone conversation with his British counterpart Dav

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko has flatly denied the reports, telling Interfax on Saturday, “It is not characteristic of Russian Foreign Ministers to use profane language. Sergei Viktorovich Lavrov is a very experienced diplomat, and he is always correct in commenting on these or those events in international affairs,”

“Such leaks are probably aimed at attaining political ends and pouring oil on the flames of hysteria surrounding Russia's actions in the Caucasus, and they are incompatible with the spirit of relations between Russia and the United Kingdom,” Nesterenko added.

He went on to confirm that the Russian Foreign Ministry is preparing a detailed transcript of the phone conversation between the two Ministers, while Lavrov intends to personally comment on his conversation with Miliband within the next few days.

‘Not diplomatic language’

The alleged heated exchange took place shortly after the war in South Ossetia in early August. The British Foreign Minister called Lavrov to express concerns over the Russian military operation against Georgia.  Citing an unnamed insider who has seen the transcript, the newspaper claims that he met repeated verbal abuse by the Russian official.

At one point Lavrov allegedly said: “Who are you to f*** lecture me?” In similarly blunt terms he asked Miliband whether he knew Russian history.

“It was effing this and effing that. It was not what you would call diplomatic language,” commented the insider to the Telegraph.

It was also claimed that Lavrov questioned Miliband about the invasion of Iraq by U.S. and UK forces, when Russian actions in Georgia came up in the conversation.

The British newspaper also reports sources at the Foreign Office confirming there was swearing ‘but only from one side’.

A spokesman for David Miliband has refused to comment.