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Russian, Austrian foreign minister to discuss trade, Russia-EU relations, Ukraine

May 05, 2015, 8:53 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz are also expected to look at the situation in the Middle East and particularly in Yemen and Syria
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Sergei Lavrov and Sebastian Kurz

Sergei Lavrov and Sebastian Kurz

© EPA/DRAGAN TATIC

MOSCOW, May 5. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz hold talks in Moscow on Tuesday to discuss the practical status of and pressing issues in bilateral relations, the Russian Foreign Ministry's official spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said.

Kurz arrived on a working visit in Moscow on Monday.

The situation in Ukraine and the role of the European security organization OSCE will have a special place at the talks.

"Particular attention will be given to settlement of the Ukrainian conflict on the basis of unequivocal abidance by the Minsk accords, which the leaders of the Normandy Four countries reached on February 12, 2015, and to the role the OSCE could play in the process," Lukashevich said.

On the international plane, Lavrov and Kurz are also expected to look at the situation in the Middle East and particularly in Yemen and Syria, as well as in some other crisis zones.

The two ministers are going to exchange opinions on the prospects for Russia-EU relations.

"Although Austria is moving in the mainstream of EU policies on the Ukrainian problem, it is nonetheless among the opponents of a long-term confrontation with Russia and a buildup of pressure in the form of sanctions," Lukashevich said.

Sebastian Kurz said in an exclusive interview with TASS on the eve of his visit he did not see any possible alternative to dialogue, especially during crises. all the more so that cooperation with Russia offered broad opportunities and was necessary for giving responses to a whole range of threats and challenges.

Negotiations in critical situations open up paths to negotiations and this is a most crucial consideration for Austria, he said.

Moscow notes a high level of mutual trust and the absence of major problems in relations between Russia and Austria. Political leadership of both countries expresses interest in promoting political dialogue and expanding trade, Lukashevich said. He recalled that President Vladimir Putin made an official visit to Vienna last June and this was the first bilateral top-level to an EU member-state after the introduction of anti-Russian sanctions there.

Lavrov and Kurz will examine the situation in bilateral trade where Moscow notes a considerable shrinkage of volumes on the background of various limitations related to sanctions. Russian-Austrian trade totaled $ 4.2 billion upon the end of last year, which is 17.9% less than in 2013.

Kurz admitted that the shrinkage affected exports to Russia and imports from likewise, saying however that the sanctions were not the only cause of it. He added that the dynamics of the economic situation would depend in the future on development of the situation in Russia.

On the cultural scene, Russia and Austria are considering expansion of collaboration in historical and commemorative affairs.

Austria recognizes the Soviet Union's decisive contribution to the defeat of Nazism and to the liberation of Europe and it treats with much care the Soviet military cemeteries located on its territory.

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