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Lavrov to attend ASEAN meetings in Singapore, have series of bilateral contacts

Russian Foreign Minister is expected to give a news conference for Russian journalists

SINGAPORE, August 2. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Thursday will attend a number of meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and will have a series of bilateral contacts.

Lavrov arrived in Singapore on Wednesday. After the ASEAN meeting, Lavrov is expected to give a news conference for Russian journalists and will take off home in the evening.

Consolidation of positions and closer contacts

The program of Lavrov’s visit includes participation in a Russia-ASEAN ministerial meeting. According to the Russian foreign ministry, the Russian top diplomat will focus in his speech on issues of building strategic partnership relations with the Association. "It is planned to agree additional measures to expand cooperation in the political, trade-and-economic, social and cultural spheres with an eye of preparing another summit meeting," the ministry said.

Other topics to be addressed at the meeting will include steps to invigorate ASEAN’s contacts with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), as well as measures to improve the legal framework for cooperation between these associations.

"The Russian delegation’s work will be geared to consolidate our country’s positions in the Asia Pacific region, promote cooperation both in bilateral and multilateral formats in the interests of building a balanced and equal system of interstate relations in the Asia Pacific region that will meet the present-day realities," the Russian foreign ministry said.

Trust-building and responding to challenges

Russia is taking serious effort to expand cooperation with the ASEAN countries to respond to new challenges and threats. "Of major importance in Russia’s dialogue with the ten ASEAN nations are efforts to work out coordinated measures to ensure security of the use of information and communications technologies," the ministry noted. "Russian security agencies are expanding assistance to law enforcement and special services of the ASEAN countries in training highly qualified personnel."

Measures to shape an architecture of equal and indivisible security in the Asia Pacific region will be in focus of a ministerial meeting of the East Asia Summit (EAS). "The EAS ministerial conference will focus on preparations for the 13th East Asia Summit meeting to be held in Singapore on November 14-15, 2018," the ministry said. "Topics for discussion will include current regional and international problems."

The ASEAN Regional Forum, the last ASEAN meeting to be attended by the Russian foreign minister in Singapore, will center round trust-building measures. "It is planned to discuss issues of closer cooperation in such spheres as disarmament and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, countering terrorism and organized crime, ensuring security at sea, and rapid response," the ministry said. "The meeting is expected to yield a number of documents, including a statement on cooperation in emergency response and a plan of activities for 2018-2019."

Bilateral contacts

The Russian top diplomat traditionally holds bilateral contacts on the sidelines of ASEAN events. Thus, last year in Manila, Lavrov held talks with his counterparts from a number of countries, including China, Japan, Turkey, North Korea and the United States.

Information about Lavrov’s bilateral contacts in Singapore was not disclosed until Wednesday, when the Russian foreign ministry said that it was looking at organizing the minister’s meetings with the foreign ministers of Cambodia, Laos, China, South Korea, and Singapore.

Naturally, journalists were curious about Lavrov’s possible meeting with US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo. It was reported last week that Moscow and Washington were looking at possible options for such talks on the sidelines of international forums. However, as it turned out, the two top diplomats will not meet in Singapore.

A source in the Russian delegation told TASS, Lavrov and Pompeo will not be able to meet as their schedules do not coincide. It has been decided to consider other possibilities for a meeting," the source said.