Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answer to a media question at a joint news conference following talks with State Councillor and Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi, Beijing, April 23, 2018
Ladies and gentlemen,
We have held very meaningful and useful talks, which were a logical succession of a meeting we had during a recent visit by State Councillor and Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi to Moscow.
Today we focused on the preparations for the visit of President of Russia Vladimir Putin to China scheduled for June, when a meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of State will be held in Qingdao.
We pointed out the unprecedented level of Russian-Chinese relations, which can be described, with good reason, as a comprehensive partnership and strategic interaction. We held a detailed discussion of the current state of bilateral relations, including a host of practical questions, and their further development.
You attended the signing of the annual plan of consultations between our foreign ministries, which stipulates numerous meetings between our deputy foreign ministers and directors of the concerned departments to discuss a wide range of current global and regional matters.
We also talked about a meeting of the SCO Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, which will be held tomorrow. We spoke at length about the SCO’s activities in general and agreed that its role in international affairs had increased following the organisation’s expansion through the admission of India and Pakistan in the capacity of full members. We praised the high standards of Russian-Chinese interaction within the SCO.
We also brought up the subject of the further development of BRICS and RIC.
We held in-depth discussions on the situation concerning the Korean Peninsula, where positive changes have been reported in the past few months. Russia and China believe that this advancement is largely in keeping with the provisions of the Russian-Chinese roadmap for a Korean settlement. We believe it is necessary for all the parties involved to take simultaneous steps towards one another and to refrain from any provocative action. We have agreed to do our best to facilitate these developments.
We exchanged opinions on the situation in Syria. Both parties agree that the missile strike on Syria delivered by the United States and its allies was a flagrant violation of international law. We called for the OPCW to conduct a thorough and objective investigation of the alleged chemical attack in Douma without any foreign pressure. We pointed out that there is no alternative to a political and diplomatic settlement of the Syrian crisis. We agreed to more closely coordinate our positions on this matter, including at the UN Security Council.
We exchanged views on the situation with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action concerning Iran’s nuclear programme. We agree on the vital significance of preserving the agreements that have been sealed by UN Security Council Resolution 2231. We are against their revision. We consider the attempts to cancel the results of the years-long efforts of the P5+1 countries and Iran counterproductive. We will do our best to preclude any attempt to undermine these agreements.
Overall, the results of our talks have confirmed our mutual resolve to strengthen Russian-Chinese foreign policy cooperation. I would like to express our gratitude to State Councillor and Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi and all our Chinese friends for their hospitality.
Question: How are the participants in Beijing affected by the current developments in the world? Things are heating up in Syria, and the United States will probably pull out of the Iranian nuclear deal unilaterally. What effect does this have on the SCO and some of its members?
Sergey Lavrov: Your question is too broad. The overall situation in the world is unsettling. As my colleague has said and we have repeatedly mentioned, there are attempts to undermine the stability of the international order which is based on the UN Charter, as well as attempts to hold court, investigations and pronounce sentence ignoring the UN Charter. This is unacceptable. We clearly stated this together with China at the Security Council where we voted on corresponding drafts of the resolution. Our representatives also made such statements in a national capacity as well.
We are very much concerned about the developments in Syria. Right at the moment when not only ISIS but the remaining terrorists were at a breaking point, when the large Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta was liberated from extremists and, critically, when real opportunities were appearing to soon start the work of the constitutional commission in accordance with the decisions of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi, a provocation was carried out under false pretext of chemical weapons use.
Before OPCW inspectors arrived at the site, amidst plentiful evidence that it was staged, air strikes were made. It must be obvious for all unbiased observers that it was done to scuttle the investigation by OPCW inspectors and undermine positive trends in the Syrian settlement process that were growing stronger largely due to the initiative of the guarantor countries of the Astana process (Russia, Iran and Turkey). I am confident that the truth will out. Even the countries that voiced support for the absolutely unlawful action taken by the United States, Great Britain and France, were forced to do so.
The majority of them are well aware that this is an unacceptable way of solving serious international crises. The most immediate task is to create conditions for OPCW inspectors to finish their work without any external pressure, or rather, not giving way to this pressure exerted on them. We will insist that the inspectors visit all sites connected to the so called ‘news’ on the alleged chemical attack, including the place where an infamous video was filmed in which water was poured on boys who were later shown to the global public to be healthy and in fine spirits. OPCW inspectors have not yet visited this place, as well as the hospital and laboratories, liberated by the Syrian troops with our assistance, where militants were preparing to launch chemical attacks right until the moment they left Eastern Ghouta. All this must be under the radar of OPCW inspectors. We will work to make this happen.
As regards the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme, as I said, we have the same position as China on this. This document was approved by the supreme body responsible for supporting peace and security – the UN Security Council. It is unacceptable to revise such agreements, which would mean revising one of the greatest recent achievements of world diplomacy. Russia and China will make every effort to prevent such a highly dangerous turn of events.