LONDON (Reuters) - The defence minister said on Sunday he was ready to work with his new U.S. counterpart but that Western nations could not treat Russia as an equal partner and needed to understand that the country was a strategic competitor.


"I'm ready to work with the new Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis... to de-escalate tensions with Moscow and as I said to continue to work with Russia on how we get towards a settlement in Syria," Michael Fallon told the BBC.


"That can't be treating Russia as an equal. Russia is a strategic competitor to us in the West and we have to understand that," he said.


(Reporting by Costas Pitas; Editing by Louise Ireland)