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updated 9:43 AM UTC, Dec 29, 2017

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions at a news conference following the ministerial round of talks on Iran's nuclear programme

lavrov vienna press-conferenceSergey Lavrov: Another round of ministerial talks on Iran's nuclear programme has come to a conclusion. We compared our notes, noted substantial progress and singled out eight to nine issues that need to be finalised. We issued instructions to our deputies/policy directors, who will follow up on this work over the next couple of days. In the end, I believe that this meeting, just like our meeting in Lausanne, was the right thing to do. The closer the finish line, the more stakeholders are tempted to bargain for more concessions from the other side. This is natural. It happens all the time at any and all multilateral meetings and discussions. Today, we can state the following result — we have come closer still to a final agreement. Clearly, everyone is interested in reaching it. We decided not to set any artificial deadlines for ourselves.

There were previous discussions about July 7 or 9. Nobody is talking about this now — everyone is focused on achieving a quality agreement, and there is every reason to believe that we will get there.

Question: How much time is needed to resolve remaining issues? Do you have a plan?

Sergey Lavrov: No, as I said, we have no artificial deadlines. We agreed to resolve about a dozen issues that will be satisfactory for all parties. Our experts are working on this.

Question: Are you going to return to the talks?

Sergey Lavrov: I think that whenever there is a need to speed up the process, the ministers will return.

Question: Could you tell us about the key issues that remain unresolved?

Sergey Lavrov: All of the technicalities involved in eliminating the risk of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and the technology involved in the military dimension of the nuclear industry – all of this has long been resolved. Now, the issue concerns the processes and procedures for taking certain steps, in case anyone has any suspicions regarding the bona fide performance of the other party. The issue now for each party is to make a politically advantageous "wrapping" of the agreement using the proper wording, so that they can show their actual achievements. However, this is all done in a spirit of goodwill and mutual respect to ensure that the final product doesn’t look like anyone's victory or loss. This is important.

Everyone wants to come up with a package of documents that will be our common achievement and contribution to strengthening the non-proliferation regime and normalising relations with Iran by those countries that are still holding these relations “on ice” and, of course, stabilising and improving the overall environment in the region.

It is essential to reach an agreement on lifting the arms embargo as soon as possible, which we never stop talking about. It is also important because uniting the region’s efforts to fight terrorism is generally recognised as a top priority. From this perspective, lifting the ban on supplying Iran with weapons that are needed to combat terrorism is a very important task.

Question: Have the Americans changed their approach to lifting the sanctions?

Sergey Lavrov: We are negotiating this issue collectively as six countries together with Iran. There is an understanding that the bulk of the sanctions will be lifted, but certainly not on the first day following the adoption of the resolution. There will be a sequence of steps, which is what the phased-in and reciprocal approach is all about. These steps have been outlined, and I can assure you that there is only one major problem left regarding the sanctions — the arms embargo. I have already explained our approach towards this issue. As we agreed earlier, a special framework will be created at the UN Security Council that will deal with complaints regarding inadequate compliance with commitments by a particular side. Such a possibility is also provided for. This is a detailed and specific document. I think it won’t be long before you get a chance to look at it.

Press Release on Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's meeting with Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby

lavrov arabiOn July 2, Sergei Lavrov met with Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby, who has arrived in Moscow for a UN-sponsored international seminar in support of the Palestine-Israel peace settlement.

The parties discussed the situation in the Middle East and North Africa and focused on the need for coordinated international efforts in overcoming regional crises. The Russian side reaffirmed its commitment to peaceful methods for resolving conflicts through all-inclusive dialogue in the interests of achieving public accord on key issues of the national agenda. They underscored the unacceptability of foreign intervention and foreign encouragement in the armed activity of opposition groups.

In this context, they noted the urgency of coordinating the actions of all Syrians and regional countries against the Islamic State and other terrorist groups and resuming the political process based on the Geneva communique of June 30, 2012 for the purpose of stopping violence in the Syrian Arab Republic as soon as possible. Mr Lavrov and Mr Elaraby supported the efforts of Staffan de Mistura, the UN Special Envoy for Syria.

Mr Lavrov and Mr Elaraby underscored the need for immediately stopping violence and confrontation in Libya, restoring the country’s unity and its state institutions through constructive UN-assisted intra-Libyan dialogue.

While discussing traditional regional issues, both sides underscored the importance of continued efforts for attaining a comprehensive and equitable settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict in line with recognised international law.

They also touched on expanded cooperation within the framework of the Russian-Arab Cooperation Forum, including preparations for its third session at the ministerial level.

Mr Lavrov and Mr Elaraby signed an agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the League of Arab States on establishing an Arab League mission in the Russian Federation.

Comment by Information and Press Department of the Russian MFA in connection with Canada’s refusal to grant visas to official Russian representatives

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We are gravely concerned about the Canadian authorities’ more frequent refusals to grant visas or issue invitations to official Russian representatives for attending various events in the country concerning international organisations and initiatives.

We consider Ottawa’s policy regarding these issues to be provocative and completely irresponsible. 

We would like to remind the Canadian government that fulfilling the role of the host country, during which time events under the auspices of international organisations are taking place, stipulates the conscientious and impartial performance of its relative duties in this capacity, including granting visas. This is a basic principle of international diplomacy. There is no place for whims or abuse here. Ottawa, seemingly, does not know this, or chooses not to remember it.

These decisions call into question the advisability of Canada hosting multilateral events until Ottawa returns to the standards of conduct adopted in civilised international relations.

Vladimir Putin's Speech at the Russian Security Council meeting

On July 3, Vladimir Putin held an expanded meeting of the Security Council at the Kremlin. The meeting discussed a range of issues concerning protection of Russia’s security and national interests in the face of sanctions imposed by a number of countries.

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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,

Our agenda today includes a range of issues concerning protection of our national interests in the face of the restrictive measures that some countries have imposed on Russia.

We know the reasons for the pressure being put on Russia. We follow an independent domestic and foreign policy and our sovereignty is not up for sale. This does not go down well in some quarters, but this is inevitable.

It is clear today that attempts to split and divide our society, play on our problems, and seek out our vulnerable spots and weak links have not produced the results hoped for by those who imposed these restrictive measures on our country and continue to support them.

Our people, our key political forces, and our business community understand what is happening and know what to do. The timely measures we took have stabilised the economic and financial situation and the labour market and ensured the stable functioning of all strategically important economic sectors. We continue implementing our most important state programmes, including in the social sector.

Furthermore, our companies, Russia’s producers, have proven that they are capable of developing in tough conditions, finding new partners, and entering new markets at home and abroad. This can be seen in the rapid growth of our agriculture sector.

Colleagues, recent events show that we cannot hope that some of our geopolitical opponents will change their hostile course anytime in the foreseeable future. The EU countries recently extended the sanctions they have imposed on us, and discussions continue in the United States on toughening sanctions against us.

Amidst all of this, no one is even trying to analyse the reasons for what is now happening in southeast Ukraine, which was what started all of this fuss in the first place. What I mean here is that those who are imposing these restrictive measures and so-called sanctions on Russia are in fact responsible for the events that we are now witnessing in southeast Ukraine.

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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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More Articles ...

  1. Reply by Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich to a media question about Canada’s new sanctions against Russia
  2. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s message welcoming participants in the international seminar on peace settlement between Palestinians and Israelis
  3. Statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry on Finland’s decision to deny entry to the Russian delegation in the run-up to PACE session
  4. Press Release by the Russian Foreign Ministry on Sergey Lavrov's meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
  5. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and answers to media questions during a joint news conference following talks with Syria’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Walid Muallem, Moscow, June 29, 2015
  6. Comment by the Information and Press Department of the Russian MFA on the 70th Anniversary of UN Charter
  7. Vladimir Putin’s Speech and subsequent QA at the plenary session of the 19th St Petersburg International Economic Forum
  8. On the passing away of Yevgeny Primakov, a prominent Russian statesman and diplomat
  9. Concept of the Russian Federation’s Presidency in BRICS in 2015-2016
  10. V.Putin calls on Ukrainian military, Donbass militias to take measures to stop shelling
  11. Comment by the Information and Press Department on the parliamentary elections in Tunisia
  12. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with Life News television and Izvestia daily, Moscow, 27 October 2014
  13. Welcoming remarks by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to the participants and guests of the 3rd International Conference “Russia and Europe: Topical Issues of Modern International Journalism”
  14. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with the All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company regarding the birthday of Yevgeny Primakov. Moscow, 28 October 2014

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