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John Kerry visits Moscow to come to terms with Russia

May 08, 2013, 11:39 UTC+3

One of the priority tasks for Kerry was the preparation for a June meeting between the presidents of the two countries

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On Tuesday, new U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Moscow for the first time. One of the priority tasks of the visit was the preparation of a meeting between President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of the United States Barack Obama due in June. John Kerry immediately met with Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin. On the same day Kerry laid down the flowers to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and had negotiations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Five bilateral documents are at the final stage of negotiations and can be submitted to the presidents, particularly the documents on the measures of trust in the cyberspace, cooperation in the non-proliferation of mass destruction weapons, the struggle against terrorism, the build-up of economic ties and interdepartmental contacts, the Kommersant daily reported.

One of the priority tasks for Kerry was the preparation for a June meeting between the presidents of the two countries. Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama are planning to have negotiations on the sidelines of a G8 summit in Northern Ireland, the newspaper noted. Last time they met at the G20 summit in Mexico in June 2012. That meeting has brought few results, but this time everything is expected to be vice versa. Despite the deterioration of bilateral relations, which culminated in the exchange of the blacklists of the citizens of the two countries banned to arrive in each of these countries, Moscow and Washington intend “to develop cooperation in the spheres of mutual interest.”

The negotiations over an agreement, which should replace the Nunn-Lugar program, under which the excesses of Russian nuclear weapons and chemical weapons were destroyed thanks to the U.S. allocations from the early nineties of the previous century, have advanced much far, Kommersant sources in the Russian Foreign Ministry and the U.S. State Department said. The newspaper recalled that last autumn the Russian authorities decided not to extend this program, which will expire on June 17, declaring that Russia does not need the U.S. allocations any more. However, finally it was decided not to abandon, but to transform the program.

PIR Centre President Vladimir Orlov said with confidence that a new program for the period of time of 10 years should replace the Nunn-Lugar agreement, but it will be more compact in the volume of financing and the number of projects. “The priority should become the use of the positive experience of the Nunn-Lugar program for the implementation of joint projects in the third countries,” he stated. Meanwhile, it is not quite clear yet what countries are in view. However, the expert believes that the conclusion of a new agreement “will lay the groundwork for a breakthrough” on other strategically important trends.

Vladimir Putin began the negotiations with John Kerry, praising highly the level of cooperation with the U.S., the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily reported. Putin hopes that his contacts with his U.S counterpart Barack Obama will permit to broaden it. Quite recently the Russian president has had two telephone conversations with the U.S. president, discussing many aspects of bilateral relations. “I hope to meet with him personally soon. Meanwhile, we will have several opportunities for meetings this year,” Putin noted. For his part, John Kerry assured Putin that Obama is anticipating eye-to-eye negotiations with him. The U.S. Secretary of State noted that the U.S. leader believes that the development of economic and diplomatic cooperation with Russia will permit to broaden bilateral relations for the interests of both countries.

Moscow and Washington agreed to convene an international conference on Syria already before the end of this month, the Vedomosti daily reported with the reference to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. “We commit to use all opportunities to bring the government and the opposition to the table of negotiations. We also confirm our adherence to the settlement (of the Syrian problem) through negotiations,” the minister told a press conference after the negotiations with John Kerry.

The grounds for a conference will be given in the agreements, which were reached in the summer of the previous year at the international conference on Syria in Geneva, the newspaper noted. Kerry hopes that a new conference will not become a fruitless diplomatic meeting, but will lay the groundwork for the creation of a new Syria. The Geneva document envisages the launch of the negotiations for the settlement of the political crisis and the formation of a provisional government, which can include the representatives of President Bashar Assad’s regime and the opposition. The U.S. supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria, Kerry said with confidence. Although, Kerry noted, he finds strange a scenario, under which an interim government will include the representatives of Assad’s rule responsible for the crimes.

There is no confidence that the new conference will be successful. “We base our position on the facts. The Syrian government said it is ready for negotiations and formed the committee, which is in charge of the dialogue with all Syrians. The Syrian foreign minister confirmed to me yesterday that they are ready for talks,” Lavrov explained. However, the words should turn into actions, the Russian minister said. If the diplomatic efforts at the conference are not successful, the chaos and the breakup of Syria are in store for the country, Kerry warned.


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