‘There is no Cold war between Russia and US’ - Lavrov
The first negotiations after five years of inactivity were intended to be held on working and friendly terms. Moreover, after the cancellation of Obama’s visits to Moscow the meeting was supposed to be quite emotionless as there were too many issues to be addressed. Opening the meeting, Sergei Lavrov said:
“Our agenda includes many problems. We have divisions on some of them, but we intend to discuss our disagreements in a quiet manner as it should be.”
At the beginning of his introductory speech John Kerry tapped Sergei Lavrov on the shoulder and then repeated more than once that in spite of the obvious problems, both countries have to solve the majority of global problems together. The US Secretary of Defense tried to explain his position to the American audience as clearly as possible.
However, not statements but results are of great importance. And here both ministers showed similarity of approaches and evaluations, Lavrov added saying that:
“Missile defense issue was discussed in detail in order to understand risks to the strategic stability. We exchanged views on Iran’s nuclear programme. We welcome the statement of the new President of Iran about his readiness to resolve the nuclear problem of Iran. I will highlight that we absolutely agree with his words: we should resolve this problem like any other problem based on a respectful attitude towards our partners rather than ultimatums. We are looking for three plus three negotiations with our Iranian partners.”
During the meeting the ministers managed to achieve a breakthrough on the Syrian conflict: it was agreed to hold meetings between Russian and US experts for preparing a Geneva-2 conference. Both Lavrov and Kerry underlined the countries had similar opinions on the situation in Syria.
As far as Edward Snowden is concerned, there were three questions asked about him, but Lavrov stressed that during the talks they barely discussed the affair.
“There is no Cold war, on the contrary, we have the closest partnership ever and good potential for its further deepening. Edward Snowden is an anomaly. It’s an unpleasant episode and we understand that it’s a very emotional topic but it can’t undermine our joint interests. I don’t see any reasons for saying that we took a step back in our relations. I’m sure that an invitation for Barack Obama, which he kept, will be used,” Lavrov concluded.
The defense ministers also reached certain agreements. For example, Moscow and Washington intend to build up military cooperation. Sergei Shoigu said that the countries needed to conduct joint exercises more often and involving more units and invited US and Italian colleagues to take part in tank biathlon.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov disagrees that events surrounding former US spy agency contractor Edward Snowden have worsened relations between Moscow and Washington to the Cold War level.
"I think all that [Russian Defense Minister] Sergei and I [Shoigu] told you today about our work with [US Secretary of State] John Kerry and [US Defense Secretary] Chuck Hagel shows that there is no Cold War," Lavrov told journalists following consultations between Russian and US foreign policy and defense chiefs in Washington on Friday.
"I have said already that Snowden has not cast any shadow on our relations. Saying that this particular example is a good pretext to call into question our cooperation, I think it would be unwise," he said.
"The Snowden theme was mentioned in passing today, but as an episode that should not and cannot undermine our common interests, which coincide in large part," Lavrov said at a press conference in Washington on Friday.
These common interests include combat against new challenges and threats and the maintenance of strategic stability, he said.
The so-called cancellation by the US side of meetings between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Barack Obama did not have a negative effect on the meeting between Russian and American Foreign and Defense Ministers in Washington said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Mr. Lavrov clarified that the meeting between President Putin and Obama had not been cancelled but had been “postponed” and that this had been confirmed.
A basic general statement on bilateral relations had been submitted for the consideration of President Obama, said Lavrov.
Mr. Lavrov stated that letters had been exchanged regarding boosting economic and investment cooperation and that Obama would probably attend a business meeting while he is in Russia for the G-20.
Agreements had also been reached in the areas of nuclear threat security and scientific cooperation in the sphere of nuclear energy and also quite a number of arrangements which would be presented to the presidents including the results of approximately 20 high-level working groups.
US and Russian officials agreed on Friday on the need to convene a Syrian peace conference in Geneva as soon as possible and will meet again by the end of the month to prepare for the talks, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
Lavrov spoke in Washington after talks between the top US and Russian diplomatic and defense officials. He described the overall mood of the talks as very positive.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu says he did not sense any negative changes in the US' approaches toward bilateral military cooperation.
"I haven't felt any changes in approaches to military cooperation. Moreover, we have discussed a number of what I see as new avenues in our cooperation," Shoigu said following 2+2 negotiations between the Russian and US foreign policy and defense chiefs in Washington on Friday.
In particular, the two parties agreed to step up contacts at deputy defense chief level, hold videoconferences as a means of negotiation on a regular basis, and try to make the 2014 plan for cooperation between the Russian Defense Ministry and the US Defense Department more substantial.
"If even something has changed, then it has changed quite for the better. We don't see any threats. I don't feel any concerns regarding our further dialogues and don't think that we see any cooling down when we talk exclusively about our military cooperation. Perhaps it's actually vice versa," he said.
In discussing the problem of a European missile defense system, it is necessary to take into account the deployment of its elements in the Baltic and Barents Seas, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told journalists.
"Apart from the deployment of European missile defense elements at the sites that have already been determined, we believe issues related to sea-based systems, especially in the Barents and Baltic Seas, should also be addressed. We are also concerned about this," Shoigu said.
"In addition, we should understand that we do not object to each country upgrading its protection, but we are against that protection being at Russia's expense. I hope we understand what we were talking about with my counterpart," Shoigu said.
The US military leadership has accepted Russia's invitation to take part in the West-2013 military exercises, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.
"It's true that we have invited them to the West-2013 exercises," Shoigu said in summing up outcomes from consultations between the Russian and US foreign policy and defense chiefs in Washington on Friday.
Shoigu said he was sure that US military officials would come to attend the exercises. "They accepted this invitation with interest," he said.
Russia may even expand the scope of invitations to foreign officials to such events in the future, Shoigu said. "We plan to invite at least the representatives of defense attache offices," he said.
The organization of exercises and unplanned operational readiness tests in the presence of foreign officials should improve confidence between countries, Shoigu said. "We test our troops not because we are planning to fight with anyone but only to test the combat preparedness of our armed forces," he said.
Voice of Russia, Interfax