MOSCOW, August 5. /TASS/. In its economic cooperation with the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Russia is not aiming to outmatch the United States, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with Channel News Asia television.
"We are number eight economic partner of ASEAN, our volume of trade doubled during the last seven years. It is more than $20 billion a year now and we intend to continue not only trade but also joint economic projects in high technology, nuclear energy, outer space exploration, transport, infrastructure," the foreign minister said.
"There are many plans between us and the countries of the region, which, I believe, are mutually beneficial," he noted.
In reply to the question whether the figures in trade between the US and ASEAN that were ten times bigger concerned Russia, he said "Why should it concern us?"
"It’s trade between ASEAN and the United States, it’s their business. We are not doing something with our ASEAN friends to outmatch somebody. We are doing this for the benefit of ASEAN and the Russian Federation," Russia’s top diplomat said.
"And let the trade between ASEAN and other countries boom, you know, up to the skies, we would be concentrating on the abilities that we and ASEAN can use together," he noted.
According to the Russian minister, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations is Russia’s key partner in the Asia-Pacific.
"ASEAN is Russia’s key partner in the Asia-Pacific, including joint efforts on shaping and developing equal and transparent system of international relations here," Lavrov said at the ASEAN forum that has opened in Kuala Lumpur today. "In the context of the 20th anniversary of Russia-ASEAN dialogue partnership, there are plans to move further in our relations," he added.
Russia and ASEAN countries will discuss preparation of the Joint action plan on developing cooperation in this format for 2016-2020 and coordinate a document on strategic prospects of Russia-ASEAN ties. "This work will be facilitated by Russian-ASEAN ‘wise men group’. The decision on establishing this group is planned to be made at the ministerial meeting," the Russian foreign ministry said earlier.
Cooperation in culture is also on the agenda. The year of 2016 is planned to be announced as Russia-ASEAN Year of Culture.