Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at talks with Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi, Astana, April 21, 2017
Mr Wang Yi, dear friend,
This feels like part of Beijing in Astana. Indeed, it is very important to maintain contact, which we do by making mutual visits or meeting on the sideslines of various international events.
I fully share your view that Russia and China bear special responsibility for the maintenance of the stability in international relations and preventing unilateral attempts to use force to settle conflicts and crises. You have cited a very good example, which is yesterday’s decision by Western delegations to block our joint proposal, without any clear explanations, regarding OPCW expert missions to the sites of the alleged chemical attacks in Syria. This decision has exposed the fallacy of our Western colleagues’ positions. They have actually prohibited the OPCW from sending its experts to the site of the alleged chemical attack and the airfield from which planes with chemical weapons on board took off. I consider the situation to be extremely serious. It has become clear that false information about the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government is being used so as to be able to refrain from the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2254, which provides for an inclusive political settlement involving all Syrians, and to return to the old plan for changing the Syrian government. I firmly believe that we must prevent this. These activities are taking place to the accompaniment of open statements made by London and Paris that their experts have allegedly collected samples at the site of the incident. When we ask London, Paris and the OPCW where these samples came from, who collected them, how they were delivered and which laboratories analysed them, we aren’t given any clear answers. I believe we are rapidly approaching a time when the OPCW will discredit itself. We must preclude any attempts to push it towards this path.
I am happy to reaffirm our resolve to maintain close contact in the coming period. In addition to the visits you have mentioned, we should also prepare the meetings of our leaders. Next month, President of Russia Vladimir Putin will visit China to attend the One Belt, One Road forum. After this, we will look forward to a visit by President of China Xi Jinping. We would be happy to see you in Russia to prepare this visit. As far as I know, we have almost coordinated the timeframe. We have also prepared a new plan for consultations between our foreign ministries. I believe it can be signed during your visit.
Once again, thank you for this meeting.