Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s press point following talks with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Reykjavik, May 19, 2021
As you can see, we talked longer than planned. The talks seemed constructive to me. There is an understanding of the need to overcome the abnormal situation that took shape in relations between Moscow and Washington in the previous years. There are numerous roadblocks. It is not easy to clear them. But I felt that Antony Blinken and his team are determined to do that. As for us, we will not be found wanting. As President of Russia Vladimir Putin has repeatedly stressed, we are ready to consider and address any issues on our bilateral agenda, including regional and global problems, conflicts and crises, based on equality, mutual respect and a search for a balance of interests.
We broached the topic of the diplomatic presence of Russia in the United States and the United States in Russia. The vicious circle of tit-for-tat blows was initiated by former US President Barack Obama. When he was leaving the White House, they confiscated our diplomatic property in the United States in what was in effect corporate raids and expelled Russian diplomats and their families in an unseemly and rude manner. We tolerated this for quite a long time. We thought that the Trump administration would revise these decisions. But this failed to happen. On the contrary, in 2017, the United States adopted new anti-Russia, anti-diplomatic decisions. Then we were forced to respond. This chain reaction can please no one. Today I felt that our US colleagues shared this view. We will be preparing proposals for our presidents on these issues and on ways to promote our dialogue on strategic stability – this is the key problem whose solution is a matter of concern for the majority of states in the world community. It is also the duty of Russia and the United States as the major nuclear powers. We have reaffirmed our proposal to start a dialogue by considering all factors influencing strategic stability: nuclear and non-nuclear, offensive and defensive. I did not see this concept being rejected, but experts have a lot of work ahead in this regard.
We have agreed to continue joint efforts, ones that are going ahead with sufficient success, on regional conflicts, where Russian and US interests coincide: the nuclear problem of the Korean Peninsula; the efforts to restore the JCPOA on the Iranian nuclear programme; and Afghanistan, where an extended Troika, including Russia, China, the United States, and Pakistan, is operating actively. We discussed how we could make all our joint actions more effective at this stage.
I think this was a very useful discussion. We will report to our presidents. The meeting was held following the telephone conversation between Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden in April of this year. I hope they will map further ways for joint efforts to rectify the clearly abnormal situation in bilateral relations.
Question: Has Russia cleared the summit?
Sergey Lavrov: We are not a customs office to clear anything.