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MOSCOW, February 28. /TASS/. In its contacts with Washington, Moscow has not been and is not discussing any criteria whatsoever on lifting sanctions, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said at a round table conference in the State Duma devoted to Russian-US relations on Tuesday.
"We have not been discussing the criteria of the lifting of sanctions and we are not discussing them," the diplomat emphasized. "True, restrictions in a number of spheres are a hindrance to us, but to no greater extent than they are a hindrance to American exports that US President Donald Trump has vowed to promote."
"To a certain extent Russia has managed to use the situation to its own advantage to develop its own industries through the process of gradual import substitution," he explained. "It is up to Washington to decide, although by and large it is clear that mutually beneficial economic cooperation would be far easier to develop without restrictions. Also, without the climate of confrontation the restrictions breed it would be far easier to conduct a dialogue and address such intricate issues as the conflict in Syria," Ryabkov said.
No understanding has been reached yet on the date and the place of an imminent meeting between Russian and US Presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump but practical preparations are under way, Ryabkov noted.
In comments on a recent meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Bonn, the diplomat said that the sides had discussed relations between the two countries and also planned bilateral contacts, including the preparation of the first personal encounter between the leaders of both countries.
"There is no understanding yet on the date and place for such a meeting but practical preparations for it have been launched and there is mutual understanding with the US side on this score," Ryabkov said.
"Naturally, at this initial stage of a dialog with the new administration, it is difficult to make a conclusion about how work will proceed further on specific issues," the diplomat said.
"The forecasts for a perspective will become possible when we see Washington’s practical actions," Ryabkov said.
Russia is ready to cooperate with the US in the fight against terrorists in Syria but obstacles built by Barack Obama hamper cooperation, Ryabkov said.
"The new US administration seems to understand the situation. Obviously, the main problem in Syria is not (President Bashar) al-Assad but international terrorism, which has turned the country into its stronghold," the Russian diplomat said.
"It is important that the new US administration confirms, particularly during its contacts with us, that it is ready to fight terrorists until they are defeated," Ryabkov added. "We are ready, too, but cooperation is hampered by another obstacle left by Obama, who imposed restrictions on the full-fledged military interaction."