Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov Meets with U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson In Bonn
Feb. 16 (EIRNS)—U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met today in Bonn, Germany on the sidelines of the G20 Foreign Ministers meeting, for the first time since Tillerson took office. Before their meeting Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov was asked by media if Russia is concerned about alleged turmoil in the Trump administration, to which he curtly answered: "You should know we do not interfere in the domestic matters of other countries."
In his opening remarks, Lavrov said he and Tillerson had "plenty of issues to discuss" and that they would "discuss and establish the parameters of our future work." After the meeting, which was held behind closed doors, Tillerson made a very short statement to the press and did not take any questions. The short statement has been subject to much spin in the media. Here is the full statement:
"Foreign Minister Lavrov and I have had a very productive meeting. We discussed a range of issues of mutual concern. As I made clear in my Senate confirmation hearing, the United States will consider working with Russia where we can find areas of practical cooperation that will benefit the American people. Where we do not see eye to eye, the United States will stand up for the interests and values of America and her allies.
"As we search for new common ground, we expect Russia to honor its commitments to the Minsk agreements and work to de-escalate the violence in the Ukraine. Thank you very much."
Lavrov also gave a press conference, making a somewhat longer statement and fielding questions.
"We have discussed the situation in bilateral relations, which were seriously undermined by the Obama administration," Lavrov said, as reported by TASS. "Secretary Tillerson has confirmed readiness to overcome this period, as expressed by President Trump during the phone talks with President Putin,"
he said, and confirmed that
"We’ll proceed from the fact that the meeting of President Putin and President Trump will take place when the presidents deem it possible."
The foreign minister continued, "We have agreed that we’ll continue contacts and we’ll have a whole number of possibilities in the next few months." Lavrov confirmed the U.S. wants to join conflict resolution, including the Ukraine crisis.
"As soon as the State Department and other departments form a team to tackle these issues, we will be ready to establish relevant contacts,"
"We have common understanding that in those areas where our interests coincide, and there are a lot of them, we must go forward and demonstrate the United States’ and Russia’s ability to play the role they are assigned on the global arena,"
Lavrov also said Tillerson is ready to support the intra-Syrian process in Astana. "Tillerson expressed readiness to support this process," he said.
"We reiterated that we have common, coinciding interests—first of all, in what concerns resolute struggle against terrorism, in this context and in the context of political settlements, and in what concerns cooperation on the Syrian crisis, and on other countries of the region where terrorism has taken root,"
When asked if sanctions were discussed, Lavrov replied,
"The issue of sanctions has not been discussed. We do not discuss sanctions; we believe that this is an anomaly, and those who resorted to sanctions should, in general, assess for themselves how effective it is, to what extent it corresponds to the normal communication between the states. And to which extent the artificial desire to politicize this issue meets the interests of the states that resort to this."