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Russian top diplomat says Moscow ready to develop relations with Washington

March 29, 18:37 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Sergey Lavrov says the Russian Foreign Ministry and the US state department should work closer

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© Mikhail Japaridze/TASS

MOSCOW, March 29. /TASS/. Moscow is ready to develop the relationship with the United States on fair terms, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with the US National Interest magazine.

"We said that we would be ready to come back to the relationship and to develop the relationship with the United States to the extent, and to the depths, to which the administration is ready to go," the Russian top diplomat noted. "Whatever is comfortable for our partners, we will support and provide it. We talk on the basis of mutual respect and equality, trying to understand the legitimate interest of each other and to see whether we can find the balance between those interests," he said.

"We will be ready to cover our part of the way, as President Putin said, but we will not be making any unilateral steps," Lavrov said. "We offered cooperation on very fair terms, and we will judge by the deeds of course," he added.

The Russian Foreign Ministry and the US Department of State should work closer, Lavrov said.

"After the American election, soon after Election Day President Putin and President-elect Trump talked over the phone," Lavrov said. "It was a good but very general discussion touching upon the key issues in our relations, and of course the key international issues," he added. "And they agreed that they would continue being in touch and after the inauguration they talked again, and they reconfirmed the need to look for ways which would be effective in handling international problems."

The Russian top diplomat pointed out that the two presidents "agreed that they would continue being in touch and after the inauguration they talked again, and they reconfirmed the need to look for ways which would be effective in handling international problems." "And of course to see what could be done to bring the bilateral relations to normalcy," he added. "They also agreed that (US Secretary of State) Mr. Rex Tillerson and I would look into the agenda in some more details, and would also discuss the preparation for the presidential meeting which should take place when both countries, both leaders feel comfortable," Lavrov said.

"We met with Rex in mid-February in Bonn on the margins of the G-20 ministerial meeting, and covered quite a lot of the bilateral agenda," the Russian foreign minister went on to say. "I briefed him about the relationship on bilateral issues with the Obama administration, the problems which accumulated during that period," he added. "We discussed Syria, Iran, the Korean Peninsula, the Middle East in general, relations between Russia and the West, it was a very general, but rather substantive discussion, obviously it was the first contact and Mr. Rex Tillerson is just getting into the shoes of his new capacity," Lavrov said."

"We discussed the possibility of personal meeting and have been continuing these discussions. As soon as we finalize them it will be announced," the Russian top diplomat noted.

"My feeling is that from the point of view of personal relationship, we feel quite comfortable. I feel quite comfortable, I believe Rex had the same feeling, and our assistants should work closer but of course this could only be done when the team in the State Department is complete," Lavrov said. 

The 'Russia' issue 

Some people in the United States want to tie up the team of US President Donald Trump on the Russian issue, Sergey Lavrov believes.

"I understand that there are some people in the United States who want this to become an obstacle, and who want to tie up the team of President Trump on the Russian issue, and I believe this is very mean policy, but we see that this is taking place," Lavrov said.

According to him, Russia cannot do much to help. "We cannot accept the situation, but some absolutely artificial hysterical situation was created by those who severed all of the relationship-who dropped the deal on the Bilateral Presidential Commission between Moscow and Washington with some twenty-plus working groups, a very elaborate mechanism of cooperation-and then after they have done this, after they prevent the new administration from doing away with this absolute stupid situation, to ask us to do something? I don’t think it’s fair," the Russian top diplomat pointed out.

"We said what we did, that we are ready to work with any administration, any president who would be elected by the American people," Lavrov noted. "This was our line throughout the electoral campaign, unlike the acting leaders of most European countries who were saying absolutely biased things, supporting one candidate, unlike those who even bluntly warned against the choice in favor of the Republican candidate, and this somehow is considered normal," he said. "But I leave this on the conscience of those who said this and then immediately chickened out and then started praising the wisdom of the US electorate," Lavrov added.

"We said that we would be ready to come back to the relationship and to develop the relationship with the United States to the extent, and to the depths, to which the administration is ready to go. Whatever is comfortable for our partners, we will support and provide it," the Russian top diplomat said. "We talk on the basis of mutual respect and equality, trying to understand the legitimate interest of each other and to see whether we can find the balance between those interests. We will be ready to cover our part of the way, as President Putin said, but we will not be making any unilateral steps. We offered cooperation on very fair terms, and we will judge by the deeds of course," Lavrov concluded.

US election

Lavrov stressed accusations of Russia’s meddling with domestic affairs of the United States, in particular with the presidential election in 2016, are absolutely groundless/

"I believe that these absolutely groundless accusations - at least I haven’t seen a single fact that this was substantiated," Lavrov said.

In the electoral campaign, these accusations were used as an instrument, "which for some reason seemed to the Democratic Party to be an efficient way to raise support among the American people, playing on their feelings that no one shall meddle with American affairs."

"This is a Russophobic instrument. It was a very sad situation because we never wanted to be unfriendly with the American people, and apparently the Obama administration, the elite in the Democratic Party, who made every effort during the last couple of years to ruin the very foundation of our relationship, decided that the American people should be brainwashed without any facts, without any proof. We are still ready to discuss any concerns of the United States," he added.

Moscow’s alleged plans to interfere in Swedish elections

 Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven’s statement on Moscow’s alleged plans to interfere in the upcoming elections in Sweden is childish, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with the US National Interest magazine.

"I read yesterday that the Swedish prime minister is becoming nervous that they also have elections very soon and that Russia would 100% be involved in them. Childish, frankly speaking," Lavrov noted. "You either put some facts on the table or you try to avoid any statements which embarrass you, even if you don’t believe this is the case," he said.

"Speaking of meddling with others’ matters, there is no proof that Russia was in any way involved either in the United States, or in Germany, or in France, or in the United Kingdom," the Russian top diplomat stressed adding that "it’s embarrassing to see and to hear what we see and hear in the West."

"But if you speak of meddling with other countries’ matters, where facts are available-take a look at Iraq," the Russian foreign minister said. "It was a very blunt, illegal intervention, which is now recognized even by Tony Blair, and those who were pathetically saying that they cannot tolerate a dictator in Iraq." Lavrov went on saying "take a look at Libya, which is ruined, and I hope still has a chance to become one piece." "Take a look at Syria, take a look at Yemen: this is the result and the examples of what takes place when you intervene and interfere. Yes, I’m sure you can say about Ukraine, you can say about Crimea, but for this you have to really get into the substance of what transpired there," Lavrov noted.

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