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Lavrov visit to Vietnam cancelled at last minute

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Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov. Reuters

HANOI (AFP) – A visit by Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov to Vietnam was abruptly called off yesterday for “unexpected reasons”, Hanoi said, hours after President Vladimir Putin was re-elected for a fourth term.

Mr Lavrov, a notoriously hard negotiating diplomat, has long been part of Putin’s inner circle.

His visit to Hanoi was sche-duled to begin yesterday morning.

But Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the cancellation in an email sent to reporters just an hour before the planned meeting with Vietnam’s President Tran Dai Quang.

Mr Lavrov was supposed to meet his Vietnamese counterpart yesterday, along with the head of Vietnam’s Communist Party, and hold a press conference. A security source said Mr Lavrov had not travelled to Vietnam.

Russia was one of Hanoi’s earliest allies, establishing relations in 1950 while Vietnam was still occupied by the French. It is also one of Vietnam’s leading trading partners today, and a top military equipment supplier.

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