25 May 2017
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Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, Moscow, February 15, 2017

Visit by UN Secretary General Special’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura to Russia


On February 16, Moscow will host talks between Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura. The meeting will be held in the run-up to the inter-Syrian talks scheduled to convene in Geneva on February 23 under UN auspices. Mr Lavrov and Mr de Mistura will exchange views on the full range of issues related to the Syria settlement, including progress in the so-called Astana process launched by Russia, Turkey and Iran to facilitate talks between the Syrian Government and the Syrian armed opposition.

Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov will hold a separate meeting with the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura.

In its contacts with the UN Envoy, Russia will focus on ensuring that the February 23 inter-Syrian talks in Geneva under UN auspices strictly comply with the parameters set forth in UN Security Council Resolution 2254, which provides for inclusive and equal participation of various segments of the Syrian opposition. We believe this to be the only way to achieve progress in settling the crisis in Syria and reaching agreements reflecting the interests of all segments of the Syrian population.


Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to attend G20 foreign ministers’ meeting


On February 16-17, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will take part in the meeting of G20 foreign ministers in Bonn, Germany. The meeting will be held as part of Germany’s G20 Presidency in 2017.

The general subject of the meeting chosen by its hosts will be ‘Foreign Policy Beyond Crisis Settlement.’ The conversation is expected to focus on foreign policy goals regarding global governance, taking into account UN’s role, especially UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, conflict prevention and implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change, as well as cooperation with Africa.

What this means is that the G20 countries are becoming increasingly active in their foreign policy efforts not only when it comes to settling crises, but also working together to come up with solutions to global challenges in the long run. Russia shares these global priorities and supports efforts to find coordinated approaches to dealing with the root causes of crises the world is facing today, as well as devising lasting solutions to political and economic issues.

The upcoming meeting and its topic are consistent with the trend of opening up the G20 agenda to issues at the confluence of politics and economics. Apart from the financial and economic block, which remains at the core of the G20 agenda, there is growing attention in this forum to issues like countering financing of terrorism, fighting corruption, resolving the refugee crisis, international information security, promoting development, and fighting climate change. Taking all this into account, the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting appears to be quite relevant.

Overall, Russia has a positive view of the priorities put forward by the German Presidency in this forum in all areas of cooperation. There is certain continuity with the Chinese Presidency, especially on issues like the digital economy, innovations and the 2030 Agenda.

It is becoming increasingly obvious that apart from the UN, the G20 has become an essential platform for coordinating the positions of the leading states. Russia believes that this format could be used to achieve progress in key areas such as ensuring sustainable economic growth, coordinating approaches to structural macroeconomic reforms, stimulating investment, strengthening multilateral trade and making it more open.

Russia is committed to remaining proactive in this area. Specifically, Russia is preparing to take part in a number of ministerial meetings, as well as the Leaders’ Summit, the highlight of Germany’s G20 Presidency, scheduled to take place on July 7-8, 2017 in Hamburg.


Events on the sidelines of the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting and the Munich Security Conference


Many bilateral meetings and contacts between Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his counterparts are planned on the sidelines of the events. I am prepared to comment on them today.

On February 16, Foreign Minister Lavrov will meet with Foreign Minister of Germany Sigmar Gabriel, in Bonn. We are working on arrangements for a meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. There is a possibility of a meeting with our Chinese counterparts. Arrangements are being made for a meeting with the foreign ministers of Brazil and South Africa. These are the meetings I can confirm at the moment. More meetings are possible considering that the forum will be attended by foreign ministers of twenty countries. We will keep you informed about additional contacts and, of course, their results. We are currently planning meetings for February 17 with the foreign ministers of Italy and Japan on the sidelines of the forum. Once again, more meetings are possible.

Also, during the Munich Security Conference, a significant number of bilateral and multilateral meetings are expected. On February 17, Foreign Minister Lavrov will meet with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Foreign Minister of Iran Mohammad Javad Zarif.

On February 18, bilateral contacts in Munich will continue. Minister Lavrov will participate in a traditional meeting with representatives of the Russian and German business communities. A meeting is planned with President of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and Foreign Minister of Croatia Davor Ivo Stier, Foreign Minister of South Korea Yun Byung-se, Foreign Minister of Turkey Mevlut Cavusoglu, Foreign Minister of Slovakia Miroslav Lajcak, and Foreign Minister of France Jean-Marc Ayrault. Also for February 18, a meeting in the Normandy format is being organised. There is a possibility of it happening. We will be able to confirm the date and exact time later. Contacts with Israeli Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman and Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, are planned for the same day. We are bringing together a meeting with IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano, and several other meetings.

Let me point out again that these are the meetings we are still working on and the schedule may change. We will keep you informed.


To be continued...


24.05.2017 - Meeting of Vladimir Putin with FIFA President Gianni Infantino

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Infantino, we are glad that you have a positive view of Russia’s efforts to prepare for the FIFA World Cup and Confederations Cup.

23.05.2017 - Condolences to British Prime Minister Theresa May

President Vladimir Putin expressed his deep condolences to Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Theresa May over the tragic consequences of the terrorist attack at the Manchester stadium.

23.05.2017 - Press release on the arbitral tribunal on the law of the sea (claim of Ukraine against the Russian Federation)

On 12 May the arbitral tribunal established under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea on the request of Ukraine claiming violation by the Russian Federation of this Convention held its first meeting. The arbitral tribunal presided by Judge Jin-Hyun Paik (Republic of Korea) considered, with the participation of representatives of the Russian Federation and Ukraine, the principal procedural documents that will govern the work of the tribunal.

22.05.2017 - Press release on a meeting of the Russian-Palestinian Working Committee on the Middle East

On May 20, a meeting of the Russian-Palestinian Working Committee on the Middle East was held at the Russian Foreign Ministry. The Russian party was represented by Deputy Foreign Minister and Special Presidential Representative for the Middle East and Africa Mikhail Bogdanov (co-chairman of the committee) and Sergey Vershinin, the Russian Foreign Minister’s Special Representative for Middle East Settlement and Director of the Ministry’s Middle East and North Africa Department. The Palestinians were represented by Nabil Shaath, the Palestinian President’s advisor on Foreign Affairs and International Relations and a member of the PLO Central Council (co-chairman of the committee), and Palestinian Ambassador to Russia Abdel Hafiz Nofal.

19.05.2017 - Press release on Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov’s meeting with a delegation of the Syrian High Negotiations Committee

On May 18, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov held a meeting with a delegation of the Syrian High Negotiations Committee (Riyadh Group). There was an exchange of views on the progress and prospects of the inter-Syrian talks under UN auspices, in particular, in the context of the latest proposals by the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura.

19.05.2017 - Press release on the Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Department meeting with NGO delegates and researchers

On May 18, senior officials from the Foreign Ministry’s Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Department held an annual meeting with delegates from the concerned Russian NGOs and the research and expert communities. They exchanged opinions on a wide range of current international security and strategic stability issues.

18.05.2017 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions at a news conference following talks with Foreign Minister of the Republic of Cyprus Ioannis Kasoulides, Nicosia, May 18, 2017

We have held very useful talks. Cyprus is our reliable and time-tested partner in Europe. Our ties are based on sincere feelings of friendship and the sympathies of our peoples, on their spiritual and cultural affinity.

18.05.2017 - Comment by the Information and Press Department on Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s participation in the 127th Session of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe

On May 18−20, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will take part in the 127th Session of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in Nicosia, which concludes Cyprus’ six-month chairmanship of the Council’s Committee of Ministers (CECM). The main theme of the upcoming ministerial session is Reinforcing Democratic Security in Europe.

16.05.2017 - Comment by the Information and Press Department on the latest application of the so-called “Law on Occupied Territories” in Georgia

We took note of the announcement by Georgian authorities that former Mayor of Moscow Yury Luzhkov would be added to the list of “persona non-grata” due to his past visits to the Republic of Abkhazia and the Republic of South Ossetia. As we can see, official Tbilisi continues its systematic provocations, undermining the process of improving relations with Russia. It is difficult to provide rational explanations for this behaviour, because Russia-Georgia normalisation brings with it tangible benefits for the economy and citizens of Georgia.

15.05.2017 - Excerpts from Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's interview with Channel One’s Vremya weekly news and analysis programme, Beijing, May 14, 2017

Question: The meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson only lasted forty minutes, compared to the Moscow meeting which was took one hour longer. Nevertheless, it seems that you had enough time to achieve the needed results. Specifically, you said that you talked about Syria at length, and the Americans were people of action. Could you be more specific about the action you were referring to here? Could you share some details about this meeting? Sergey Lavrov: Firstly, Rex Tillerson’s visit to Moscow was important because of the mere fact that it provided an opportunity for the first face-to-face meeting at foreign minister level and a meeting took place with President of Russia Vladimir Putin. Since this was the first contact of this kind, we spent quite a lot of time going through all the subjects on the agenda related to bilateral ties and international and regional issues. The visit to Washington was a follow-up to the conversation already started in Moscow. Rex Tillerson and I had a meeting that lasted about two hours, and a little less than an hour in the White House, where we talked at length with US President Donald Trump about Syria (as I have already said at the press conference in Washington), primarily focusing on the groundwork that was laid last year, and further efforts along these lines by the new administration.

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