Medvedev to Attend Olympic Opening Ceremony, Putin Due Later

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev will head his country’s delegation at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games in London on Friday, a government spokesperson said.

Britain’s Foreign Office has predicted some 120 heads of state will attend the opening ceremony, making it the biggest ever top-level international gathering.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to arrive in London on August 2, the Kremlin said on Friday.The statement said he would meet British Prime Minister David Cameron and attend a range of Olympic events during his visit.

Putin said last week that he would pay a “private visit” to London to attend the judo tournament. The former KGB officer is a judo black belt.

The visit will be Putin’s first to Britain for nine years. Relations between Britain and Russia have been strained in recent years over the death of Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 and disagreements on how to handle the Syria crisis, among other issues.

Cameron said on Thursday he would attend the judo tournament with Putin to discuss trade.

He did not say if he would raise the issue of the escalating Syria crisis with the Russian president.

Russia – along with China – has vetoed three UN Security Council resolutions on Syria over what it says is a pro-rebel bias. Syrian activists say over 16,000 people have died since the start of an uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad last spring.

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