Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at talks with UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Moscow, December 22, 2017
Mr Foreign Secretary,
We are glad to welcome you to Moscow, especially considering that the last time a UK Foreign Secretary visited Moscow was five years ago. It is not a secret that our relations are at an extremely low ebb nowadays, though not at Russia’s initiative. We have taken note that you as well as our other Western colleagues do not share our views on the reasons for this and prefer to say so in the open. We would like to discuss mutual concerns directly with each other rather than through the public. I hope we will have an opportunity to assess the situation in our relations today, including the numerous mechanisms of bilateral cooperation that have been frozen.
I am confident that we will also have an opportunity to discuss positive trends in our trade and economic relations, ties between our business people, as well as our growing cultural and humanitarian ties. We are partners in the UN Security Council and the G20, and as such we definitely need to maintain cooperation despite our different views on many matters. We are willing to do this on the basis of equality, mutual respect and a desire to make mutually acceptable arrangements.
I hope that today we will have an open and direct discussion aimed primarily at mapping out concrete steps towards improving our relations.