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Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov answers questions from the media after talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry, Vienna, June 30, 2015

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On June 30, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Vienna. The Minister answered questions from the media after the talks.

Question: What was the outcome of the talks withUS Secretary of State John Kerry?

Sergey Lavrov: Talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry were held in line with agreements between President of Russia Vladimir Putin and US President Barack Obama, reached during their telephone conversation. The presidents agreed to focus on the growing terrorist threat in the Middle East and North Africa, primarily in the context of the Syrian crisis. Mr Kerry and I were instructed to meet and to discuss in detail the opportunities available for intensifying and coordinating the actions of regional countries in view of the increasingly aggressive attacks by the Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorist organisations. Today, acting in the spirit of principled understandings reached by the two leaders, we exchanged concrete ideas on how to try to make the situation more manageable at the current stage and how to consolidate all those who view the Islamic State as the ultimate evil and who are sincerely interested in eradicating terrorism in this key region of the world.

Naturally, we briefed our US partners on the results of Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al Muallem’s visit to Moscow, the results of his talks with President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin and my talks with him in Moscow yesterday. Our US colleagues and we agree that the situation calls for a more proactive approach that would rely on the consensus of all those who oppose the Islamic State. We also realise the need for thwarting various time-serving considerations in every possible way and attempts to use terrorist groups to achieve momentary, including political, goals directed at various regimes in the region. This is very important. For obvious reasons, I can’t go into details, and I will not do this. We have agreed to continue these consultations and to involve regional countries in them. I hope that consultations will be held in the foreseeable future, and we will not delay them for long. We need to organise some preliminary events for this purpose.

We also discussed several other issues on the Russian-American and international agenda. Acting in accordance with the agreement reached during Mr Kerry’s visit to Sochi on May 12 this year, we decided to continue our contacts on the Ukrainian crisis on a more practical plane. We also reaffirmed our intention to use the channel coordinated by the presidents of Russia and the United States for this purpose. Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin and Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland have met twice and plan to meet again in the next 10 days. We agreed that the Minsk Agreements will be the main gauge for these consultations, just as for the Normandy format talks, and that these agreements will be on the table at the meetings of our representatives. We will look at what has been done and what has not been done, paragraph by paragraph, and decide on which side to apply additional pressure.

We voiced our concerns related to Kiev’s misinterpretations of the Minsk Agreements, primarily regarding elections in Donbass, constitutional reform and an amnesty. Our American partners voiced their intention to press for the strict and comprehensive implementation of the Package of Measures approved in Minsk on February 12. We fully share this approach. But the main thing is to apply it in practice.

We also talked about strategic stability, the implementation of international treaties, including the INF Treaty, and relations between our military, including at the Nuclear Risk Reduction Centres that were created in Russia and the United States long ago.

Some of the issues we discussed concerned the humanitarian sphere, the problems connected with some Russian citizens, including in Guantanamo and several other cases where Russians were placed under US jurisdiction and we have been denied due access to them. Mr Kerry promised to look into these bureaucratic obstacles. I hope we’ll make progress in this sphere.

We also discussed events that the United States is planning for the near future as part of its chairmanship of the Arctic Council.

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Reply by Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich to a media question about Canada’s new sanctions against Russia


Question: Could you comment on Ottawa’s latest enlargement of anti-Russian sanctions?

Alexander Lukashevich: Such unfriendly actions by Canada are regrettable. However, what else can be expected from those who, with their statements and irresponsible steps, systematically encourage the “party of war” in Kiev and prevent a real search for ways to resolve the internal Ukrainian conflict? Where were the Ottawa authorities when Nazi collaborator Vladimir Katryuk, who had been directly involved in the execution of Khatyn civilians, took refuge on Canadian soil for so many long years, avoiding justice and well-deserved punishment?

Evidently, Stephen Harper’s team is therefore trying to play up to Canada’s pro-Banderovite community to enlist its support in the upcoming parliamentary elections this autumn.

New sanctions will further sour Russia-Canada relations, which have already fallen on hard times by Ottawa’s fault. Needless to say, this move will not go unnoticed.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s message welcoming participants in the international seminar on peace settlement between Palestinians and Israelis

I’d like to welcome all participants in the international seminar on peace between Palestinians and Israelis, which was organised by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

Russia has consistently worked to achieve a fair Palestinian-Israeli settlement as soon as possible on a universally recognised international legal basis, in part, by implementing the Madrid principles, relevant UN Security Council resolutions, the Arab Peace Initiative and earlier agreements. Mutually acceptable accords should ensure the formation of an independent, contiguous and viable Palestinian state that will co-exist in peace and security with Israel.

We welcome the stance of the Palestinian leaders, which they have reaffirmed repeatedly – that there is no alternative to negotiations. We are pleased to note that the leader of the new Israeli government, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, expressed support for a two-state solution to the Palestinian problem twice in the past month. We hope that this position will be backed by practical steps. For our part, we will continue facilitating the resumption of talks – both via bilateral channels and at different international venues, first and foremost, in the format of the Middle East Quartet of international mediators.

It is necessary to monitor the situation in the Gaza Strip where the population continues to experience serious humanitarian difficulties. There is considerable demand for steps aimed at lifting or at least easing the blockade. We consider it important to provide Palestinians with the resources pledged by the participants in the International Conference on Palestine, “Reconstructing Gaza”, that took place in Cairo last October, and to provide them on time. Russia strongly supports the efforts to unify Palestinian ranks on the basis of the Palestine Liberation Organisation and the Arab Peace Initiative.

It is in the interests of the international community for Palestine to acquire national sovereignty, which will help strengthen peace and stability in the region. I am confident that your meeting will also make a contribution to our common efforts.

I wish you productive discussions and all the best.

Sergey Lavrov

Moscow, July 1, 2015

Statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry on Finland’s decision to deny entry to the Russian delegation in the run-up to PACE session

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The Russian side views as unacceptable the Finnish authorities’ decision to deny entry to State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin, head of the official delegation of the Russian Federal Assembly, and five other members of the Russian delegation to Helsinki for the 24th annual Parliamentary Assembly Council of Europe (PACE) session due to take place on July 5-9.

Statements that these members of parliament are included in the European Union’s sanctions list are absolutely inappropriate. EU decisions cannot justify Finland’s deviation from its international obligations when this country hosts the annual PACE session.

We consider such actions to be openly unfriendly; they do not conform to the principles of good-neighbourly relations and are detrimental to Russian-Finnish relations.

Hannu Himanen, Finland’s Ambassador in Moscow, was invited to the Russian Foreign Ministry today and briefed on the situation.

It was also decided not to send an official Russian delegation to a high-level meeting marking the 40th anniversary of signing the Helsinki Final Act, which is to be held in Helsinki immediately after the PACE session. An official of the Russian Embassy in Finland will attend the event.

Press Release by the Russian Foreign Ministry on Sergey Lavrov's meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

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On June 30, Sergey Lavrov met with Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mohammad Javad Zarif.

The officials discussed the ongoing negotiations for the comprehensive settlement of the Iranian nuclear programme. The ministers had an interested exchange of views regarding the possible further steps to eliminate the remaining obstacles on the way to a final mutually acceptable agreement.

Both sides discussed cooperation within the SCO, including the preparations for the upcoming July 10 SCO Summit in Ufa.

A great deal of the discussion revolved around cooperation in the fight against terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa, especially in the context of the Syrian crisis.

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