MOSCOW, October 25 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Saturday denied allegations that Moscow and Washington had agreed to exchange intelligence about Islamic State (IS) terror group, but said Russia was open to broader anti-terror cooperation within a now defunct working group.
"No agreement was reached on intel exchanges within America's so-called coalition fighting Islamic State, or on our sending instructors to train the Iraqi army," Lavrov said during the Vesti v Subbotu (Vesti on Saturday) show on a Russian TV channel.
This statement came after US Secretary of State John Kerry claimed the countries had agreed to work together on IS during the ministers' meeting in Paris last week. Kerry said Lavrov had agreed to coordinate counterterrorism cooperation with Washington, but the Russian foreign chief later dismissed this claim.
Lavrov pointed out there used to be a US-Russian anti-terror working group, a part of the Presidential Commission. This contact group was set up back when the Obama administration was still dedicated to a "reset" policy with Russia.
The Russian foreign minister stressed that – unlike a popular opinion that suggested the group had been frozen in response to Russia's reunification with Crimea – it became defunct following the Snowden spying scandal.
"This happened long before the sanctions after the situation with Snowden [came up] and Washington's ungrounded offense prevailed over its common sense," Lavrov noted.
Lavrov repeated the explanation he had given Kerry back in Paris when they discussed the Middle Eastern crisis.
"I replied that Russia had long been open to counterterror cooperation: we have been actively helping countries in the region by boosting their defenses… Russian arms deliveries are sent to Iraq, Syria and Egypt," Lavrov said, adding he invited the United States to revive cooperation "within the framework of the previously agreed mechanisms."
Russia has indicated multiple times that it will not join the US-led anti-IS campaign, which it says violates international law and Syrian sovereignty.