Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during his first visit to Washington in a few years held talks with the head of the State Department, Rex Tillerson, and met with US President Donald Trump. As a result of the visit, it was stated that, despite all the difficulties, Moscow and Washington “can and should” together help resolve international problems, including in Syria.
At the same time, Lavrov said that Russia would welcome “any US contribution” to the functioning of security zones in Syria. According to the “tradition” of the past, Lavrov was asked before and after the talks about the possible interference of the Russian Federation in the elections in the United States, especially since his visit coincided with the resignation of the head of the FBI, James Komi. In the meantime, the experts called the past consultations a stepping-stone from the point of view of preparing the forthcoming meeting of the presidents, which, Lavrov confirmed, will be held in July.
The first visit to Washington in four years
Initially, the meeting between Lavrov and Tillerson was to be held in Alaska, “on the sidelines” of the ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council. However, then it was decided to hold it separately in Washington, which Lavrov last visited in 2013. Then, together with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, he participated in the meeting of the “2 + 2” format with his American counterparts. After that, Lavrov did not make any similar meetings, much less separate visits to Washington.
Moreover, early in the morning (Moscow time) it became known that US President Donald Trump will receive Lavrov. In total, the negotiations both in the White House and in the State Department lasted more than two hours. Summing up their results, Lavrov noted that “despite all the known difficulties, our countries can and should help together to solve key problems that are on the international agenda.” Among them – the Palestinian-Israeli settlement, the Ukrainian conflict, the situation in Afghanistan.
“On these issues, we agreed to continue working contacts, to seek ways to bring together the positions of all interested parties,” the Russian Foreign Minister noted.
Sanctions and Bilateral Issues
The bilateral agenda was among the priority topics of the talks. According to Lavrov, the current state of relations between Moscow and Washington “is not encouraging,” and the causes of this crisis are “well known” – the actions of the previous administration.
“Now we have to act from a very low level, and we understand perfectly well that Russian and American citizens want to live in harmony and communicate normally, I think the task of politicians is to ensure that all artificial layers that interfere with this are eliminated,” Lavrov said. .
According to him, during the talks with Tillerson he discussed the results of the meeting of their deputies – Sergei Ryabkov and Thomas Shannon, these contacts were the first step in the work of the so-called working group on eliminating “existing irritants”.
“We agreed that on this channel we will continue to consider those irritants that have artificially appeared in our relations, I think that this is a useful and business approach.” We will not solve all the problems in one sitting, it’s absolutely clear. “But that there is a desire to move in “Trump clearly confirmed his interest in building mutually beneficial, business and pragmatic relations, as well as solving problems,” Lavrov said.
He noted that “now the dialogue between Russia and the United States is free from the ideology that characterized the Obama administration.”
“Trump, his administration, Secretary of State Tillerson are people who want to conduct a dialogue not to show their achievements in the field of ideological preferences, but to solve specific issues on which the development of the country depends, the well-being of citizens and the settlement of conflicts in different parts of the world “, The minister said.
Later, the US State Department issued a message stating that Rex Tillerson at a meeting with his Russian counterpart said that sanctions would remain in place against Moscow until it “changed the actions that led to it.” Lavrov, in turn, said that “sanctions are unilateral actions taken against us, and therefore their solution is not our problem.”
Answering the question of Russian journalists, the minister said that he also discussed in Washington the issue of access of Russian diplomats to Russian diplomatic facilities, limited by the Obama administration in December 2016.
“I hope that it will be possible to defuse this situation without aggravating our relations,” Lavrov said.
… and again about elections
The American press was interested in the bilateral press only in one and the already traditional context – the notorious “Russian intervention” in the US presidential election and the resignation of the investigating “influence” of the director of the FBI, James Komi. It happened just at the time when Lavrov’s board was heading to the USA.
In anticipation of the talks with Tillerson, Lavrov was “surprised” and answered the American journalist with a question to the question: “What, have they (Komi – red.) Been fired?” Later he said that “this question is not for me at all.”
“I can give you an example of a situation where someone in Russia, France, or the United Kingdom appoints someone or dismisses them, these are your internal affairs,” Lavrov said.
Touching upon the topic of the elections, the minister recalled that no one has yet provided evidence of Moscow’s possible interference.
“I’ve never thought that I would have to answer such questions, especially in the United States, with your deeply developed democratic political system.” President Trump repeatedly spoke publicly about what he thinks about the allegations that we are interfering in your I have enough of his public statements, “Lavrov said.
He stressed that “the trouble is that no one has presented a single fact, no single proof to anyone.”
“And if you cover the international life and the life of your country, ask how journalists, where these facts are,” Lavrov said.
Statements about the “Russian trace” in the election campaign, he called “absolutely abnormal background” for the development of bilateral relations.
“It seems to me that it is simply humiliating for the American people to hear that the Russian Federation is leading the domestic policy of the United States.” How can a great country try to think about such categories? “I believe that politicians do great harm to the US political system when they try to imagine that someone, Then directs America from the outside, “Lavrov said.
De-escalation in Syria
Lavrov and Tillerson “discussed in detail” the Syrian conflict and its settlement, including in the context of the creation and operation of de-escalation zones. According to Lavrov, Moscow and Washington agree that “this should be a step towards ending violence” throughout Syria, and contribute to progress in a political settlement.
“We agreed that we will continue to work together in the format of Astana, where the US is present as an observer, we appreciated the constructive contribution that the United States made at the last meeting, and we will also cooperate in the Geneva process … We expect that the government of Syria and all opposition groups will Act constructively, “Lavrov added.
He stressed that Moscow would welcome “any US contribution to the creation of de-escalation zones in Syria.”
“The idea was originally expressed by the US: President Trump and Secretary of State We used the format of Astana to begin to promote it in practical terms, and anybody will welcome the US contribution.” Those who deal with the professional situation “on the ground” Who owns this situation, “Lavrov said.
At the same time, the minister was asked about the “exit strategy” from Syria and – for the second time – about the fate of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
“And in the case of Iraq, and in the case of Libya, the progressive world community was obsessed with the need to overthrow one person – Saddam Hussein in the case of Iraq and Gaddafi in the case of Libya.” We see this very well. Syrian crisis, let us learn from past mistakes and do not bet on changing a specific president, a specific leader, but at eradicating the threat of terrorism, “the Russian Foreign Minister noted.
According to him, Trump at a meeting on Wednesday confirmed that the main thing in Syria for the US is to defeat terror. “Here we fully agree,” the Russian minister said.
Preparing for a meeting between Putin and Trump
The expected issue was also about the upcoming meeting between the presidents of Putin and Trump, responding to which, Lavrov confirmed that it could take place at the G-20 summit.
“Today, US Secretary of State Tillerson and I talked about how we can move forward on the agenda items I mentioned, including on Syria and other issues, so that we can produce tangible, tangible results for this meeting. (Leaders) will meet in July, “the minister said.
Commenting on the results of the meeting, Alexei Arbatov, head of the Center for International Security of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said that it was a step towards easing tension between Russia and the United States.
“This is the first step towards de-escalation of the tension that existed between Russia and the US in recent years.As for the establishment of Russian-American relations, we can cite such an allegory: we took 20 steps back and have now taken one step forward,” Arbatov said.
Answering the question whether to expect breakthroughs in cooperation between the United States and Russia on Syria, Arbatov said: “So far, this is a declarative undertaking.”
“But as the Bible said, at first there was a word: in politics, too, without first having a word, no things are done.” If the word was sounded, then there is a chance to get down to business. “If the word did not sound, there will be no case,” – said the political scientist.
Head of the International Organizations and World Political Processes Department of the Faculty of World Politics of the Lomonosov Moscow State University Andrei Sidorov agrees that it is too early to talk about a breakthrough in Russian-American relations in connection with Lavrov’s visit.
“Only the meeting of the two presidents and taking responsible decisions can be a breakthrough: in this case, Lavrov’s visit to Washington only shows that very intensive negotiations are under way and an agenda for this meeting is being formed.” The fact that Putin met here with Tillerson, and the fact that Trump Took Lavrov, said that we are on the same wave – at least, we are trying to resolve some of the contradictions that exist in Russian-American relations, “the expert said.
Touching upon the issue of the prospects for joint struggle against the terrorist grouping of the IG (banned in the Russian Federation), he pointed out that the Russian Federation and the US do not have any significant differences here, “unless the issue of the fate of Bashar Assad is removed.”
“As for Afghanistan, it is also possible to agree here, it is more difficult for Ukraine, there is also a question of trade and economic cooperation, but it is limited by sanctions, and there may also be some definite progress,” Sidorov suggested.
Original: Лавров обсудил в США ситуацию в Сирии и перспективы встречи Путина и Трампа