Trade, energy and anti-terror efforts will be at the top of the agenda for European Union leaders' summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday in London.
Both sides are eager to boost business links and increase cooperation against terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime. Also on the agenda is global warming, a top issue for Prime Minister London, whose nation now holds the rotating EU presidency.
Blair, who has been pressing for action against warming, pushed the issue at recent EU summits with China and India and plans to discuss it again at the Russia meeting, the Foreign Office said.
He will also hold British-Russian talks with Putin on Wednesday, when the Russian leader is to present citations to British sailors who helped rescue a Russian crew trapped aboard a mini-submarine in the Pacific Ocean in August.
Amnesty International has urged EU leaders to take a tough line on Russia's human rights record when they meet Putin. The London-based rights group recently alleged that Russian forces in Chechnya were responsible for "gross human rights violations," including torture and forced confessions, the AP reports.
The EU and Russia have long disagreed on human rights. The EU is keen to call on Moscow to respect human rights in Chechnya, while Russia has accused new EU members Latvia and Estonia of discriminating against their large Russian-speaking minorities. Another perennial point of contention between the two sides is Moscow's demand that the EU ease visa restrictions. The EU says it will only do so if Moscow takes back illegal immigrants from the bloc plus those from its neighbors who reach Western Europe by crossing through Russia's porous borders. Russia has been opposed to readmitting illegals, saying such a policy would be costly and could violate migrants' rights.
Blair, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, European Commission President Manuel Barroso EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner will represent the bloc at the summit. Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov lead the delegation from Moscow.