Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Blair Offers to Send Advisers to Kremlin




British Prime Minister Tony Blair has offered to dispatch two senior government experts to advise acting President Vladimir Putin on economic and administration reforms.


Blair made the offer to Putin during the two leaders' informal meeting in St. Petersburg on Saturday and it is now being considered, a spokeswoman for the British Treasury said.


The spokeswoman said Blair has suggested having the head of the Downing Street Policy Unit, David Miliband, and senior Treasury official Nigel Wicks act as advisers to the Russian government.


If the offer is accepted, the pair will fly out to Moscow with a team of other British experts sometime after the presidential elections, slated for March 26, she said.


The spokeswoman could not say exactly when Wicks and Miliband may be coming. "We are sorting out details," she said.


Wicks, who heads the Treasury's international finance directorate, will advise the Russian government on economic policy, including integration into the world economy, as well as on the development of small business, she said. Miliband will give consultations on streamlining Russia's bureaucratic machine and its civil services and on other state policy issues, a Downing Street spokesman said.


The spokesman stressed the two officials will offer their advice "assuming that Putin wins the elections."


The Treasury spokeswoman said that Wicks, who will retire from his present post in April, has "vast experience which he can share."


She added the Russian government has yet to officially react to Blair's offer.


Reached by phone Friday, an officer in Putin's press service confirmed that the offer had been made, but said the Kremlin will respond only after the election.


"These are prospects that can be discussed only after the elections," the presidential spokesman said.


After the St. Petersburg meeting, Reuters cited Blair as saying Putin seems to have two priorities - reforming Russia's economy so it could welcome international investment and opening up political relations and forming strategic alliances.


"He wants to modernize his country. ... So, there's a lot of things, perhaps, we have in common," Blair said.