Answers to questions of Russian mass media by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov summarizing the results of bilateral agreements “on the fields” of the ministerial meeting of the Group of Eight, London, 10 April 2013
Question: Sergey Viktorovich, how did your negotiations with the US Secretary of State take place?
Sergey Lavrov: We talked about all aspects of our relations for almost two hours. It was confirmed that known irritants need to get additional attention in contacts of profile agencies and experts. They need to gradually keep back not to create obstacles for the promotion of a positive agenda like both our Presidents declared when they met in Los Cabos in June 2012 and during their detailed phone conversation this March.
We have a mutual understanding that we need to take specific steps for the implementation of the agreements of the presidents about the increase of priority of our economic and investment interaction with emphasis on investments, high tech, removal of obstacles that may in some way discriminate Russian companies in the USA and vice versa. We reminded about the offer of the President Vladimir Putin to create a business climate tracing mechanism in our countries that may be done within the framework of structures of the bilateral presidential commission. We have also agreed to activate the work of all work groups of the said commission.
A lot of attention was paid to international problems, primarily, the situation on the Korean Peninsula. We have a common position here – we need to comply with UNSC resolutions. At the same time, we understand that it is impermissible to artificially discharge confrontation from any part. Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the inadmissibility of steps that will prevent from solving this task is our common task. While there is a chance to renew six-party talks, we need to seek for making it happen. In any case Russia and the USA advocate for a political and diplomatic settlement of the current situation.
We talked about Middle East affairs. The US Secretary of State agreed that sessions of the quartet of mediators on the Middle East at the ministerial level have not taken place for a sufficiently long time. There is understanding that such a meeting shall have place soon, moreover, it would be ideal to involve Arab countries into the processes within the framework of the "quartet". And it would be very good to conduct such consultations with participation of Palestinians and Israeli. Too much non-confidence has accumulated, and the Palestinian problem is not being solved for a very long time. The Secretary of State agreed that taking into account all events of the "Arab spring" that are currently engrossing minds more than anything else, we cannot idly observe the deadlock in respect of the Palestine-Israel Peace Process that has preserved and is becoming deeper.
We talked about Syria. The commitment to the Geneva Communiqué envisaging the end of violence and the beginning of negotiations between representatives of the government and the opposition was confirmed. The Secretary of State assured that in contacts with the opposition they will try to achieve the same thing that we are insistently advancing during our meetings with opposition members, namely – the formation of delegations for negotiations with the government's delegation. We are together convinced that the continuation of the current situation, when the parties stake at war till final victory is unacceptable. We reckon that as a result of meetings of foreign ministers of the Group of Eight in London, that will start today and will continue tomorrow, we will also be able to discuss the need for and specific ways of fulfilment of Geneva Agreements.
We discussed Afghanistan, as well as the Nuclear Program of Iran in light of the recent meeting in Almaty.
In general, I think that we had very valuable negotiations. Our next meeting will take place on 23 April in Brussels "on the fields" of the session of NATO-Russia Council at foreign ministers level.
Question: What were the results of your negotiations with the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan? Did you discuss the forthcoming visit of the Prime Minister of Japan Shinzō Abe to Russia?
Sergey Lavrov: We discussed in detail all the lines of our interaction, confirmed our mutual disposition to the advancement our relations in all spheres – in economics, humanitarian links, cooperation on international issues, where we would like to see more coordination, more proximity in our positions. We agreed that we will actively complete the documents that are being prepared at the highest level for our closest contact. These are important documents that embrace different spheres of our interaction – from energy, transport, interaction in the line of investment funds to the exchange with sports delegations. I think that the next summit will be rather productive.
Question: Did you discuss the issue of Guantanamo Bay detention camps with the US Secretary of State and the offer of the official representative of the U.S. Department of State Victoria Nuland to visit the citizen of Russia who is detention there and to evaluate the conditions of his detention there.
Sergey Lavrov: We are preparing this visit. We hope that it will take place in the nearest time, and we will be able to get convinced what is the condition of the citizen of Russia Ravil Mingazov.
Question: Americans understand that radicals are currently dictating their conditions in Syria, and many countries are trying to arm them. Do you have any common understanding with the American party in this respect?
Sergey Lavrov: I think that both Americans and other countries, including the Group of Eight, understand that the cost of preservation of the status quo and the continuation of the current situation will be that extremists, among which there are structures affiliated with Al-Qaeda, such as Djebhat an-Nusra and other groupings, will be the gainers. This will cost us unpredictable consequences not only for Syria, its territorial integrity, unity as a country, where many religious, ethnic groups live in peace, but also risks for the entire region. I think that the awareness of this becomes more and more aggravated, and to a large extent, if not decisively, it is the understanding of this threat that pushes our partners to a more active stimulation of the opposition to refuse from preconditions and to start negotiations.
Question: Did you discuss the situation in North Korea with the Foreign Minister of Japan?
Sergey Lavrov: Yes, of course. We discussed it with the Foreign Minister of Japan and with the US Secretary of State. I have already stated our position, and we have no disagreements here. I hope that they have heard us in what concerns the need to avoid the temptation to use the current shady undertaking of Pyongyang as a pretence for building up armaments in the North East Asia and changing the military balance there, that would be bad from the point of view of stability both in that region and on a global scale.
10 April 2013