PETROPAVLOVSK-KAMCHATSKY, October 25 /TASS/. Russia has never planned to exchange intelligence data with the United States for the purpose of fighting the Islamic State, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in the “Vesti v Subbotu” (Saturday News) programme on Rossiya 1 television channel on Saturday.
Lavrov commented on his recent meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Paris. “It was Kerry’s initiative. It was he who suggested that we should meet,” the Russian foreign minister said.
“I agreed because that fitted well into my schedule on the eve of the ASEM summit in Milan,” Lavrov added when asked whether Kerry had really arrived at those talks without mandate from U.S. President Barack Obama.
The Russian minister denied Kerry’s words that Russia would exchange intelligence data with the United States for the purpose of fighting the Islamic State.
“It is not so. We really discussed ways of fighting terrorism in the Middle East and the regional situation on the whole. John Kerry suggested cooperation as part of struggle against the Islamic State. I replied that Russia had long been ready to cooperate in the fight against terrorism. We actively help the regional states by increasing their combat capability so that they could stand against terrorists and extremists,” Lavrov went on to say.
He recalled that Iraq, Syria as well as Egypt were receiving Russian weapons. In Egypt, “the terrorist threat has recently been stronger than in other countries. However, the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has coped with the situation and is steadily returning things back to normal,” Lavrov said.
Anti-terrorism efforts must rest on one common criterion, that is: if this or that organization resorts to terror methods, such organization is to be outlawed, Lavrov said.
“It is becoming a trend now to immediately bring an accusation without investigation whatever,” he said. “The Islamic State is a real threat but it has emerged not from nothing. Since the very beginning of the crisis /which was dubbed as the ‘Arab Spring’ due to some unknown reason/ we have been warning against taking a reckless course towards the use of all possible means against the existing regimes - maybe authoritarian but secular altogether - just to change them. There were protests but very soon they were swelled by extremists and terrorists our Western partners, regrettably, took as their allies /like it was in Libya/.”
“Now, terrorism must be fought against not through unilateral accusations and selective actions against “bad terrorists” who are to be defeated while other extremists may even hope to be helped to topple unwanted regimes,” Lavrov stressed. “We must denounce these methods and look at the situation comprehensively, first of all, in the Middle East and Northern Africa, reckoning with absolutely all factors on the basis of a single criterion - if organizations resort to terrorist methods, they must be outlawed.
Russia and the United States could exchange intelligence data to fight terrorism as part of earlier agreed mechanisms, Russian Foreign Minister said.
Lavrov said he had reminded US Secretary of State John Kerry at a meeting in Paris of a presidential commission that comprised a special antiterrorism group.
“It was a channel for dialogue that representatives of special services, the military and diplomats were able to take part in. The presidential commission and this group were disbanded,” he said.
“This was done long before the sanctions (the West imposed on Russia for its position on events in Ukraine), after the situation with (US intelligence leaker) Edward Snowden (who was granted asylum in Russia), when a grudge of vague origin prevailed over common sense in Washington’s position,” Lavrov said.
“So I told John Kerry: if you want to work jointly, let’s do so not selectively but in the framework of coordinated mechanisms,” Lavrov continued.
“Intelligence data exchanges really took place in the framework of the presidential commission. For example, on the well-known case - the terrorist attack in Boston [in April 2013] - we, in the framework of the above-mentioned mechanism, provided the US with data that unfortunately did not receive proper attention,” he said.
“That’s all we discussed,” Lavrov said. “There was no agreement that we will exchange information in the context of activity of the US-established so-called coalition against the Islamic State, just like there was no agreement that we will send our instructors, train the Iraqi army.