Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the sidelines of the Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting, Reykjavik, May 19, 2021
First of all, I would like to thank you for your proposal to meet here. This is important for our relations and for deciding how we should move forward, just as our presidents want us to do. I believe that it is clear to everyone why this routine meeting between Russian and US representatives held on the sidelines of the Arctic Council’s meeting has created a sensation and attracted so many people. Our goal is to determine, on the basis of the telephone conversations between our presidents, how we can further develop our relations.
There are serious differences in our views on the international situation and in our approaches to the tasks that need to be addressed to normalise it. Russia’s position is simple: we are ready to discuss all issues without exception if the discussion is honest, with facts on the table and based on mutual respect.
The diplomatic procedure provides for reciprocity, including with regard to unfriendly actions. The main thing is for us to try to use diplomatic options as much as possible. I appreciate your resolve to act in exactly this manner. You can always expect us to reciprocate your efforts.
As you have said, the global situation to a large extent depends on relations between Moscow and Washington. As far as I can see, our presidents, who have had two telephone conversations, agree that we should cooperate on the issues where we have similar interests, when we can reach positive results regarding conflict situations and, most importantly, on issues of strategic stability. In this context, the Korean Peninsula, the situation around Iran’s nuclear programme and Afghanistan are the issues on which our representatives have been collaborating actively. I hope we will be able to review these efforts today.
We are ready to clear away the obstructions we inherited from the previous US administrations as regards the functioning of US diplomatic offices in Russia and Russian diplomatic missions in the United States. Unless we create normal working conditions for our diplomats, we will undermine the very essence of diplomacy, which boils down to creating and maintaining bridges and dialogue.
Thank you for this meeting. I hope it will be a constructive dialogue.