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UK foreign secretary holds phone call with hoax Armenian PM

Published : 24 May 2018, 19:49

  DF-Xinhua Report
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. File Photo Xinhua.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson held an 18-minute phone call with a prankster claiming to be Armenian prime minister, local press reports said Thursday.

The pair talked about Russia, Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Salisbury poisoning during the conversation, audio released on Thursday revealed.

A duo of Russian pranksters with suspected links to the British security services managed to get through to Johnson, the reports said.

The duo released audio of the call, which they said took place last week, in which one of them pretended to be Nikol Pashinyan, the recently appointed prime minister of Armenia.

Johnson began by congratulating the hoax caller "very sincerely on your remarkable success," believing he was talking to Pashinyan.

"You can definitely count on the UK and I admire your vision and what you're trying to achieve," he said.

Later in the call, Johnson was prompted to discuss Russia.

He said that "obviously we had hoped to have better relations... than we currently do," and "I'm afraid that Russia seems to be unable to resist malign activity of one kind or another."

Johnson then appeared to laugh when the caller said he was holding a meeting with the Russian president and "hoped he will not poison me with Novichok," the nerve agent which Britain has claimed was used on Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

It appears the call was cut off abruptly from the British side, possibly after the penny finally dropped that the voice on the other end of the line was not that of Pashinyan.

The British Foreign Office confirmed the call and said Johnson realised the call was a hoax.

The Foreign Office said, "We checked it out and knew immediately it was a prank call."

"These childish actions show the lack of seriousness of the caller and those behind him," it added.