MOSCOW, November 5 (Itar-Tass) —— Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov does not think that the situation in Syria has become an “apple of discord” between Russia and Saudi Arabia.
“The drawn-out conflict in Syria has exposed well-known disagreements on this issue in the international community. At the same time, it could be incorrect to consider the Syrian situation as an ‘apple of discord’ between us,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with the Al-Ahram newspaper published on the Foreign Ministry’s official website on Monday, November 5.
“The difference in the Russian and Saudi approaches to the Syrian issue has no nature of an insuperable watershed. Our points of view coincide on the main issue: further armed confrontation in Syria is unacceptable. Helping put an immediate stop to the fratricide war and bloodshed in that country is our common task,” he said.
Russia and Saudi Arabia “are interested to exchange opinions on the situation in Syria and jointly look for ways to settle it”, the minister added.
“This is where we place the emphasis during our regular contacts with Riyadh, both in a bilateral and in multilateral formats. In particular, the first ministerial meeting of strategic dialogue between Russia and the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf was held in Abu Dhabi in November 2011, and a ministerial meeting between Russia and the League of Arab States took place in Cairo in March 2012, where a great deal of attention was paid to Syria,” Lavrov said.
“The Syrian crisis was also discussed during my telephone conversation with Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Al-Faisal this summer. The second round of the ministerial dialogue between Russia and the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf is to be held in Riyadh this month,” the minister said.
Speaking of the dialogue between Moscow and Riyadh, Lavrov noted that a good head-start has been made for further development in various areas, including trade and economy.
“We have signed and are implementing mutually advantageous contracts, many of which have already been realised. A number of large Russian companies are studying the possibility of joining in new promising joint projects. We would welcome reciprocity in the form of Saudi investments. Certainly, there are still unused reserves. Both Russia and Saudi Arabia show interest in tapping the rich potential of cooperation,” Lavrov said.
Referring to the Russian Foreign Ministry’s comment on human rights in Saudi Arabia, Lavrov emphasised that the statement by the Foreign Ministry’s commissioner for human rights, democracy and the rule of law “was made in correct tones and did not seek to interfere in anyone’s internal affairs”.
“That’s not our style,” he added.
“Since we have established a close dialogue with Saudi Arabia, just like with many other Gulf States, we, like partners, voiced our concern over reports about incidents in the Eastern Province of that country. We are consistent in our principled support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states in the region. We think that such a constructive approach helps strengthen our bilateral dialogue,” Lavrov said.