8 August 201710:58

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and answer to a media question following the Russia-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting, the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and the ASEAN Regional Forum on security, Manila, August 8, 2017

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Manila has been hosting the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) events for two days. ASEAN has about twenty partners. This format included a series of dialogue meetings of ASEAN plus each partner, including Russia-ASEAN, the meetings of the foreign ministers of the East Asian Summit countries (ASEAN and its key partners) and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), traditionally devoted to security issues.

During the Russia-ASEAN foreign ministers’ meeting, we certainly congratulated our colleagues on the Association’s 50th anniversary. We reviewed the implementation of the agreements that were reached at the May 2016 summit in Sochi. We endorsed a roadmap for implementing the recommendations of the Eminent Persons Group to the presidents in the context of that summit. Individual statements that motivate us to more active cooperation in the fight against terrorism and the programme of action to combat drug trafficking were approved.

We reaffirmed our readiness to increase the number of scholarships that we offer to our colleagues from the ASEAN countries for the training of law enforcement personnel at the Russian Interior Ministry and Federal Security Service higher education establishments.

We agreed on the promotion of our economic cooperation. There are huge resources here. We coordinated more than 20 projects that are now in the works and will be more specifically considered at the meeting of Economic Ministers of Russia and ASEAN in September 2017. In September, a dialogue between the business circles of Russia and ASEAN will be held on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum. Also, major cultural and humanitarian events are planned, including, as I said, the 50th anniversary of ASEAN celebrations – a joint Russian-ASEAN orchestra performance, the youth and university forums.

Another result of our meeting is that we have formed an expert group from the academic community to consider areas for future cooperation. As for the ministerial meetings of the EAS and ARF countries, the focus was on further improvement of our interaction on security issues, cooperation and overall architecture at the intergovernmental level in the Asia-Pacific Region (APR).

We decided to submit a document Russia has drafted jointly with Indonesia to the East Asia Summit, which will take place here in Manila in autumn. It is devoted to fighting the ideology of terrorism. Everybody agreed that this is the most important issue, which should be dealt with closely. We are promoting a similar initiative in New York within the United Nations framework.

We also agreed to add another issue to the EAS agenda – combating infectious diseases. Since it is Russia’s initiative, the first meeting on this issue will be held in our country in October.

Speaking about the regional security forum, I would like to note the interest in our initiative to do an inventory of all the groups that function in the APR, including those I mentioned (ASEAN plus Dialogue Partners, EAS, ASEAN Regional Forum on security). There is also the ASEANAPOL force – a ministry of the interior, a regional Interpol, with which Russia is also actively cooperating. There is also a mechanism ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meetings Plus (ADMM-Plus), in which Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu also participates.

We suggested thinking how to establish network relations between all these groups in order to coordinate their activities more closely and, in this context, also to develop contacts with organisations that are established outside the ASEAN-centric groups, primarily the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). In this context, we recalled the agreement reached between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his colleagues at the ASEAN Summit in Sochi in May 2016 on building the Greater Eurasian Partnership through the establishment of regular multi-faceted ties between the member countries of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), the SCO and ASEAN.

I think that very good work has been done, but we need to take specific steps to implement all that was agreed upon. Everyone is highly motivated. We will actively promote this.

Question: Are there any changes in North Korea’s position after the adoption of the UN Security Council resolution?

Sergey Lavrov: I heard that the Foreign Ministry of North Korea has made a harsh statement rejecting this resolution and condemning it as unfair. Strictly speaking, this is how representatives of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea have reacted to all previous UN Security Council resolutions. We will judge by their actions.

We are confident that there is no alternative to the resumption of the political process, in particular the six-party talks. Russia and China have made relevant proposals. We will promote them in New York and other venues. We will certainly continue our dialogue with our North Korean neighbours. We expect that with the prudent approach of all players, naturally including the United States, the Republic of Korea and Japan, we will be able to find a solution that suits all parties.

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