25 May 2017
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PRESS RELEASES AND NEWS

18.04.2017

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Syria

Question: What issues are on the agenda of the upcoming Geneva meeting on the intra-Syrian settlement? Will it be political issues only, or will military issues also be discussed, in light of the recent air strike on the Syrian airfield and the coalition landing operation near Deir Ez-Zor?

Sergey Lavrov: The talks in Geneva will be held after May 3–4, that is, following a regular meeting in Astana. We hope that the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria, Mr Staffan de Mistura, will find a suitable date. It has been suggested that since the holy month of Ramadan begins in late May, it would be expedient to postpone the talks until after it ends. We are convinced that we must not lose momentum, especially in a situation when the political process has been brought into question. I am referring to the strike on the Shayrat airfield and the intention of many players in Syria, among the external opposition and in many countries in and outside the region, to use this situation to place the blame squarely on Bashar al-Assad. They seek to deviate from a political settlement through the expression of the will of the Syrian people themselves to conduct unilateral actions to overthrow the Syrian government. It is an alarming trend. As I have said, in pursuit of this goal, they are using the April 4 chemical weapons incident in Idlib, which was followed by the illegal US air strike on the airfield from which planes allegedly carrying chemical weapons took off. I have said repeatedly that we demand that an objective and unbiased investigation be carried out under the auspices of the OPCW with assistance from independent experts, and that this investigation be fully transparent.

I would like to remind you that we have pointed out a very strange coincidence: that the two groups of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) on the potential use of chemical weapons in Syria are chaired by UK citizens. We have said that this runs contrary to the principles of an international organisation, the structures of which must be maximally balanced. We have not received any response as yet, but we can regard a recent statement by UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson as an indirect response. He said in an interview that Damascus and Russia and Iran, which support it, are to blame for the chemical attack.  By way of evidence, he said that British scientists have analysed samples from the site of the attack, and that these have tested positive for sarin or a sarin-like substance. That’s an interesting coincidence: British citizens chairing the OPCW FFM don’t tell anyone anything, while British scientists have already analysed samples taken at the site of the incident. I believe we will be sending a request to the OPCW today demanding an explanation. I expect they will have to answer this time.

The situation is not simple at all. We hope that the majority of countries see what is going on. We will not permit anyone to derail the efforts to attain a political settlement in Syria under the UN Security Council resolution.

http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/2729221




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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.


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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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