Comment by the Information and Press Department ahead of Sergey Lavrov’s tour of the Maghreb countries
On January 23-26, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will make a working visit to the Maghreb countries, including the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, the Kingdom of Morocco and the Republic of Tunisia.
Sergey Lavrov will meet with the top leadership of these countries and hold talks with their foreign ministers. The agenda includes discussions on bilateral relations and an exchange of opinions on current regional and international affairs.
Algiers, Rabat and Tunis conduct active foreign policies and contribute to the multilateral efforts aimed at finding answers to new challenges and threats, including on the global scale. It is in Russia’s interests to have closer cooperation with these countries.
We believe that it is very important to regularly compare approaches to the settlement of problems in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as in the Sahel-Sahara region.
It is our position of principle that the regional nations can and should determine their future independently without any foreign interference and address their domestic problems through a broad national dialogue. This applies in full measure to the early settlement of conflicts in Syria, Libya, Yemen and Mali, where violence and public suffering must end.
Algeria is one of the largest buyers of Russian products in Africa and the Arab world. Russian-Algerian trade amounts to $4.6 billion for a second year running. There is scope for it to increase further in the near future.
Talks in Algeria will focus on the main aspects of bilateral relations and the possibility of strengthening bilateral cooperation in a number of spheres. Both countries want the effective use of the Joint Russian-Algerian Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic and Scientific and Technical Cooperation, which will meet for a regular session in Russia on January 28-30.
Morocco and Russia are connected by long-standing friendship and cooperation. Last year, they marked 60 years of diplomatic relations.
The Kingdom of Morocco has been a leading partner of Russia in Africa and the Arab world for many years. Bilateral trade increased by 13 per cent to more than $1.4 billion in 2017.
The Intergovernmental Mixed Russian-Moroccan Commission on Economic and Scientific- Technical Cooperation, which is the key element of bilateral relations, held its 7th meeting in Rabat in October 2018.
Talks with the Tunisian leadership will include in-depth discussions on current aspects of bilateral relations and the possibility of strengthening foreign policy cooperation, in particular, so as to promote a settlement in Libya.
Tunisia is a major buyer of Russian products in Africa and the Arab world. Russian-Tunisian trade increased from $511 million in 2017 to $760 million in 2018. Tunisia mostly imports raw materials from Russia, but it has recently increased the import of Russian manufactured goods. Tunisia predominantly exports agricultural products to Russia.
We are satisfied with the efforts of the Russian-Tunisian Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation to enhance the benefits of business interaction between our countries. The parties are preparing for the seventh meeting of the Commission, which will be held in Tunis in 2019.
Tourism features prominently in bilateral cooperation. The number of Russian tourists who visited Tunisia in 2018 rose to 600,000, nearly 100,000 more than in 2017. We welcome the efforts taken by the Tunisian authorities to enhance the security of Russian tourists, which has always been among our priorities.