Speech by the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his answers to questions from the mass media during the press conference summarizing the results of negotiations with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Kuwait Sabah Khalid Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, Moscow, 11 October 2013

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Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have conducted valuable negotiations, and confirmed our mutual disposition to further strengthenour cooperation, including our political dialogue, trade, economic and investment cooperation with an emphasis on energy and other areas of economic life.

We agreed that the existence of mutual interests on behalf of the business circles of Russia and Kuwait in reciprocal actions deserves all possible encouragement. We will push our businessmen to make them meet more frequently and develop a perspective on mutually beneficial projects. We are confident that such contacts between the business communities of the two countries will be considerably in demand, also taking into consideration the Kuwaiti government’s plans to implement large scale, primarily transport and other infrastructure projects in the territory of the State of Kuwait. To ensure more structured and purposeful development of trade, economic and investment ties, we agreed to accelerate the renewal of the work of the Joint Russian-Kuwaiti Intergovernmental Commission for Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation.

Our reciprocal interest in the extension of ties in the area of science, culture, education, sports, activation of youth contacts was confirmed. We expressed mutual satisfaction with the results of the visit of a delegation from the University of Kuwait to the Russian Federation, which conducted meetings in many higher education establishments of our country, signed an Agreement on cooperation with the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and with the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia, as well as visited St Petersburg State University. We decided to support and develop this practice in all possible ways.

Our approaches to regional problems in the Middle East and North Africa match or are very close. We welcome the process of implementation of the decisions of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the UNSC about the establishment of control over reserves of chemical weapons in Syria, for the purpose of their further elimination. We speak in favour of this work continuing with clear developmentsto schedule, and without any interruptions. We categorically caution against any provocations.

The Russian Federation and Kuwait both speak in favour of speedier convention of the international conference on the Syrian settlement without any preconditions, with the sole purpose of fully implementing the agreements reached in the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012. Russia is convinced that for this conference to succeed, all those who influence the development of events in the Syrian Arab Republic and around it, the Syrian parties themselves, must participate in it. The main thing is to make delegations of the Syrian parties representative from the point of view of all strata of Syrian society, as is actually envisaged by the Geneva Communiqué.

We expressed high appreciation of the efforts of the leaders of the State of Kuwait to provide and mobilise humanitarian aid to the Syrian people, including not only refugees, who are outside the Syrian Arab Republic, but also internally displaced persons, whose numbers exceed the number of refugees who need assistance. Russia also provides humanitarian assistance to the civil population in Syria. We will support any initiative which helps relieve sufferings of the Syrian people on a practical scale.

We value the constructive attitude of the State of Kuwait to the Russian initiative to advance the concept of ensuring security and cooperation in the Persian Gulf region. We are confident that within the framework of the next round of the strategic dialogue between the Russian Federation and the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, at the level of foreign ministers we will be able to substantially review ways of implementing this idea, taking into account new and in some cases favourable factors of the development of the situation. These factors are primarily healthy signs related to prospects of starting substantial negotiations on the practical solution of the problem related to Iran’s Nuclear Programme (INP). We hope that next week in meetings between Iran and the IAEA, Iran and the 3+3 group will lay the foundationsfor the specific movement to remove all questions in respect of INP.

Another factor is the above mentioned work on the elimination of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic. Progress in these areas makes the problem of convening an international conference on the creation of a zone free from weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East (WMDFZ) more acute. Delays in the implementation of available decisions about the convention of such a conference last year become more and more non-constructive from the point of view of settlement of the entire set of the most complex problems of the Middle East region. We hope that everybody involved, will remove all barriers and artificial obstacles in the path of preparation for the above mentioned conference.

Among other problems of the region, we also discussed the task of achieving the Palestine-Israel Peace Process. We are united in the view that the renewed direct negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis must end with generally acceptable agreements, which are based on the existing international legal framework, including UNSC resolutions, Madrid principles, the Arab Peace Initiative, decisions of the quartet of international mediators and the agreements reached between the parties up to now.

We hope that we have a common assessment of our negotiations today as being timely and valuable. We have agreed with my friend and colleague to continue our dialogue and cooperation, including political contacts at all levels.

Question: How do you see the solution of the Syrian issue on the background of the elimination of chemical weapons?

Sergey Lavrov: Russia sees the solution of the Syrian problem as it is formulated in UN Security Council resolution 2118. The document clearly states that in connection with the accession of the Syrian government to the Chemical Weapons Convention and the OPCW and UN decisions, perfect implementation of all the procedures established by international experts should be ensured. The very same resolution, without any reservations and preconditions, states that the UN Security Council supports faster convening of the international conference, to make the Syrians themselves, in their delegations representing the entire spectrum of Syrian society, agree how to fully implement the provisions of the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012. UNSC resolution 2118 sets out obvious logistics which envisagethat clear and prompt elimination of chemical weapons in Syria, the process related to establishing control over chemical weapons and their further elimination, creates the perfect conditions to begin implementing the Russian-American initiative to convene an international conference on Syrian settlement.

I had several meetings with the US Secretary of State John Kerry on the side-lines of the events taking place in Indonesia and Brunei. We have clearly confirmed our commitment to those particular logistics, which are included in the UNSC resolution and which should end – the sooner the better – with a conference named Geneva-2. Unfortunately, not everybody shares the approach aimed at unconditional implementation of this UNSC resolution. There are many personalities inside the so-called “inexorable Syrian opposition”, and in neighbouring and other foreign countries, who would like to prevent the convening of the international conference, organise other provocations with chemical weapons, accuse the Syrian regime of this and attempt once again to force Western countries to start threatening to use force.

Only recently messages have appeared that third countries wrongfully used the territory of Afghanistan not controlled by Kabul, to train militants in methods of fighting the Syrian regime, including skills to handle chemical military substances. Now we are seeing messages that such criminal activity may touch not only the Syrian territory, but also other countries. According to some data, a known terrorist group Djebhat an-Nusra plans to illegally deliver poisonous weapons to the territory of Iraq and to specialists there to organise terrorist attacks.

I wish to remind all those who wish to disrupt the process of chemical disarmament that UNSC resolution No. 2118 holds not only the Syrian government, but the entire Syrian opposition, as well as other countries, who are prohibited from using their territory for any exchanges involving chemical weapons, responsible for ensuring the security of this process and the full implementation of the OPCW and UNSC decisions. Those who attempt to violate the UNSC requirements must understand that they are responsible.

I beg forgiveness for this long answer, but it is important to me to tell everyone not only how Russia views the settlement of the Syrian crisis, but also what serious obstacles any opponents of the process put in its way.

This vests the countries patronising different opposition groups with enormous responsibility and they will be responsible for the actions of these opposition members in complyingwith rather than contradicting the requirements of the UNSC resolution.

Question: This morning the Ambassador of the Netherlands in Moscow submitted a report explaining the actions of Dutch policemen in respect to the Russian diplomat Dmitry Borodin. Is Russia satisfied with these explanations and are they sufficient? What will be the further actions of Moscow?

Sergey Lavrov: You have just said yourself that the so-called Dutch report was received this morning.I met you here this morning and we were dealing with other issues – we have negotiations with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kuwait.

When our experts have studied it, we will form our attitude. The main thing is that without any report the Dutch party acknowledged (and, actually, it had no other choice) that it was a gross violation of international law, in particular the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

Question: Is Kuwait ready to support the participation of Iran at Geneva-2?

Sergey Lavrov (answers after Sabah Khalid Al-Hamad Al-Sabah): I mentioned in my welcome speech that we need to ensure the participation at the Geneva-2 conference of all those who influence the situation around Syria in some way. Lately we have been hearing more and more realistic statements of our Western partners, who were against the participation of Iran until recently. Moreover, they pointed out that Geneva-2 should be devoted to the implementation of the Geneva Communiqué of last year, but Iran did not support it. This argument has never stood up to scrutiny. Many countries of the region, whose participation was never doubted by our Western colleagues, not only do not support, despite their verbal statements, the convention of Geneva-2, but directly work to disrupt the event. Not to mention that they supply weapons to illegal armed groups in violation of international law, thus prolonging the bloodshed in Syria.

Remember, how upset some of these countries were and they could not even hold back their emotions, when the Russian-American initiative to establish control over Syrian chemical weapons and their further elimination was announced and enhanced the chance of convening Geneva-2? Many countries did not like this. I hope that disciplinary measures will be used against opponents of the Russian-American initiative and they will work in favour of the convention of Geneva-2, as well as stopping their disruptive activities.

Strangely substantiated arguments against the participation of Iran have been replaced by a more realistic approach recently. The appearance of healthy prospects for negotiations on INP contributes to this. In all these conditions the participation of Iran in the Geneva conference is, of course, a mandatory factor, like the participation of other countries which have influence over different Syrian groups.