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Saturday, July 8, 2017

Sergey Lavrov’s answers to Russian media questions following President Vladimir Putin’s meeting with US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the G20 Summit, Hamburg, July 7, 2017



7 July 201722:24
07-07-2017



Question: Mr Lavrov, how did this long meeting go?
Sergey Lavrov: If the presidents see that they have issues to discuss and to solve something rather than just exchange opinions, I don’t think that time is of paramount importance. Indeed, they had a very long conversation. My feeling was confirmed that President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and President of the United States Donald Trump are driven by the national interests of their countries and pursue them primarily by seeking to achieve mutually beneficial agreements rather than trying to act out confrontational scenarios and invent problems out of the blue. It was in this concrete and business-like vein that Syria, Ukraine, the Korean Peninsula, cyber security and a number of other issues were discussed.
Agreements were reached on some quite concrete things.
First, literally today, Russian, US and Jordanian experts finished work in Jordan’s capital Amman and agreed on a memorandum on de-escalation zones in the south-west of Syria – in Daraa, Quneitra and Souweida. The ceasefire in this zone will come in effect on July 9 at 12 pm Damascus time.
Russia and the United States have undertaken commitments to ensure the ceasefire regime by all the groups present there and also to provide humanitarian access and establish contacts between the opposition in that region and the Monitoring Centre being set up in the capital of Jordan. In the beginning, security around this de-escalation zone will be provided by Russian military police in coordination with Americans and Jordanians. It is crucial that the document clearly confirms the commitment of Russia, Jordan and the United States to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria and the UN Security Council resolutions which laid the foundation for promoting a political settlement. This is the agreement that both the presidents welcomed today.
Second. While discussing Ukraine, the US side reported that they had appointed a special envoy to assist in settling the Ukrainian crisis. It was agreed to set up a channel between Russian and US officials so as to use US capabilities for promoting a settlement on the basis of the Minsk agreements and relying on the groundwork laid by the Contact Group and in the Normandy format. We expect that the US envoy on the Ukrainian settlement will arrive shortly in Russia for consultations.
The third issue is cyber security which was understandably given considerable attention. The presidents agreed that this area is becoming ever more dangerous. There are numerous threats emerging in cyber space, including a terrorist threat, threats in other areas of organised crime, such threats to the normal functioning of societies as child pornography, pedophilia, the so-called suicide networks. Of course, President Trump also mentioned that certain circles in the United States keep on spinning the issue of Russia’s interference in the US elections even though they are unable to prove that. 
All these issued combined, including fight against terrorism, organised crime, hacking in all its forms, were agreed as subjects of Russian-US interaction. A bilateral working group will be set up for that purpose.
The fourth agreement envisions shorter procedures for appointing new ambassadors, the Russian ambassador to the USA and the US ambassador to Russia.
Question: Was the issue of the Russian diplomatic property on US territory raised?
Sergey Lavrov: Yes, it was. We will continue seeking justice.
Question: Did the sides fail to agree on anything on this issue?
Sergey Lavrov: If I said we will continue doing this, it means there is still work to do.
Question: You are a diplomat and you notice details. There are no minor details in diplomacy. What do you think about the atmosphere at the meeting? What set the tone? Where can things go from here in your opinion?
Sergey Lavrov: The atmosphere was constructive. As I said in the beginning, the tone was set by the desire of both presidents to promote the national interests of Russia and the United States, respectively. It was determined by the understanding that each country will be able to do this better if we cooperate and seek a balance of interests, and also if we work for stabilisation in different parts of the world, where the situation is very turbulent, be it the Middle East or North Africa, the Korean Peninsula or Afghanistan.
Question: Were there any agreements on Ukraine? US President Donald Trump had proposals on a different plan.
Sergey Lavrov: I don’t remember US President Donald Trump offering some other plan. A lengthy conversation with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson today in the morning did not reveal any departures from the Minsk agreements either. Just as during the conversation with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in Paris yesterday, it was stated that the sides are interested in speeding up the implementation of the Minsk agreements and are determined to work toward this.
Question: What was said on Russia’s “interference” in the US election?
Sergey Lavrov: I have already spoken on this subject.
Question: Now you have essentially announced the agreement on the south of Syria. Two days ago the result in Astana was zero although this issue was discussed. Is the Russia-US-Jordan format you mentioned new? Will you put it through Astana later on? Will you discuss it with President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan tomorrow?
Sergey Lavrov: Read the May 4 Memorandum approved in Astana. It deals with four de-escalation zones in Syria: northern (in the area of Idlib); a zone a bit to the north of Homs; a zone covering the greater part of Eastern Ghouta and the south-west of Syria. Obviously, it will be very difficult to agree on anything in the south-west without the Jordanians and the Americans who are working with the Jordanians and representing the interests of the coalition in this region. Three other zones were primarily discussed in Astana a couple of days ago. As we said, there is an understanding on how the zones near Homs and Eastern Ghouta should look. The discussion of the northern zone is still going on.

To be continued...




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