Russian President Vladimir Putin is continuing his state visit to Britain Wednesday, with a day of sightseeing. Mr. Putin is the first Russian leader to visit Britain as a guest of the British Royal Family since 1874.

President Putin visits Edinburgh Castle and other Scottish attractions on the second of his four-day visit.

Tuesday night, at a state banquet at Buckingham Palace, Mr. Putin made a rare statement in English.

"I would like to express to Her Majesty, the Queen, and the people of the United Kingdom, our sincere condolences with the loss of the British soldiers in Iraq," he said. "It is clear for everyone that in spite of the differences that existed before, today we need to act jointly."

In her speech at the banquet, Queen Elizabeth II said the Britain-Russia relationship is of profound importance.

On Thursday, between tourism stops, Mr. Putin will talk business with Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The two men will meet privately to discuss issues ranging from Russia's role in post-war Iraq to Moscow's handling of the situation in Chechnya.