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PRESS RELEASES AND NEWS

30.08.2017

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks and answers to media questions at a joint news conference with Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani following his visit to Qatar, Doha, August 30, 2017

Ladies and gentlemen,

First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to our Qatari friends for their hospitality and very good organisation of our work.

As my colleague, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, said, we were received by Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani of Qatar this morning and after that detailed talks were held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Qatar.

At all these meetings, we reaffirmed our commitment to the further development of interaction over the entire spectrum of areas in line with the agreements reached during His Highness Sheikh Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani’s visit to the Russian Federation early this year and in the course of telephone conversations between President Vladimir Putin of Russia and the Qatari leader.

We are committed to promoting our trade and economic ties more actively. Of course, trade so far falls short of both countries’ potential. In this regard, we attach much importance to energising the Joint Russian-Qatari Commission for Trade, Economic and Technical Cooperation, which held a meeting in Doha in April of this year. Incidentally, our entrepreneurs held a business forum on the sidelines of this event. Quite recently, we have also upgraded the composition of the Russian-Qatari Business Council, which should also facilitate progress in trade and economic interaction.

We have confirmed our shared interest in continuing our coordination in the energy and oil production area as well as within the Gas Exporting Countries Forum. We note a growing interest towards investment interaction, specifically between the Russian Direct Investment Fund and the Qatar Investment Agency. We have agreed to continue cultural, humanitarian and educational exchanges, including during preparations for the FIFA World Cup in 2018 and 2022.

As my colleague, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, said, Minister of State for Defence Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah of Qatar visited the Russian Federation recently to attend the Army-2017 International Military Technical Forum. He held talks with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, which revealed mutual interest in promoting contacts in this sphere.

We also discussed current regional issues, including crises in Syria, Libya and Iraq. We share the opinion that every one of these conflicts must be settled exclusively through an inclusive dialogue between all ethnic and religious forces without any external interference, so that the people themselves can decide the future of their country. In this regard we are grateful to our Qatari friends for their high assessment of Russia’s efforts to promote the concept of de-escalation zones in Syria, considering that such zones will also create more favourable conditions for promoting political dialogue.

We also share the concern over the deadlocked Palestinian-Israeli settlement. We are convinced that solutions must be searched for on the path of direct dialogue based on the Arab Peace Initiative, which the quartet of international intermediaries – Russia, the United States, the UN and the EU – has supported more than once. Russia and Qatar believe that the restoration of Palestinian unity is an issue of crucial importance. The current developments in relations between the cities of Ramallah and Gaza are absolutely abnormal. We believe that the Palestinians must resume the implementation of the framework agreements reached earlier, which provide for restoring the unity of all on the basis of the PLO platform and the Arab Peace Initiative.

As my colleague has said, we discussed the situation in the Persian Gulf in light of tensions between Qatar and a number of other Arab countries. We are convinced that solutions to this problem must be based on mutually acceptable approaches, dialogue and compromise, and without counterproductive militant rhetoric.

We have reaffirmed our support for the mediation efforts of the Emir of Kuwait. We are ready to contribute to these efforts if the parties believe that this would be useful. As I said in Kuwait, we want the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) to be united and strong and to facilitate the solution of the region’s problems, and strong and to facilitate a solution to the region’s problems, of which there are many, without creating new ones.

I would like to again express gratitude to our Qatari friends for their hospitality. I invite my colleague, Foreign Minister of Qatar Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, to visit Russia at his convenience.

Question: As you have said, many envoys are visiting the region. How does the role of Russia’s envoys differ from the others who are attempting to resolve the crisis in the Persian Gulf? We have heard reports of the ideas you are bringing to the leaders of the Persian Gulf countries and countries involved in the conflict. What are these ideas? What was the reaction in Kuwait and the UAE when you discussed the situation with Qatar?

Sergey Lavrov: Regarding Russia’s role, we are not acting as mediators, as I said. Kuwait is playing the role of a mediator. We believe that this issue should be resolved through the efforts of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC). We know that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has proposed mediation services. We will welcome it if these proposals produce results and these efforts meet with success. But for our part, we have not proposed anything that differs from what Kuwait and the United States are proposing. We do not think this necessary. There are sufficient proposals that provide a perfectly adequate base for beginning dialogue. We will continue our policy of contacts with all countries in the region.

Question: Why did you not go to Saudi Arabia this time?

Sergey Lavrov: I will visit Saudi Arabia and Jordan in early September.

Question: A few days ago, Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu said that Iran is allegedly preparing sites in Syria and Lebanon to produce precision-guided missiles that could be used against Israel. Are you aware of any such plans on Iran’s part? Could you comment on this situation? Was this matter mentioned during Mr Netanyahu’s visit to Sochi?

Sergey Lavrov: Mr Netanyahu told the media himself about what was discussed at the talks in Sochi.

As for your question regarding whatever area of cooperation between Iran and Syria, my position is that if their cooperation in whichever field does not violate the basic provisions of international law, it should not be cause for question.

If anyone in the Middle East or other part of the world plans to violate international law by undermining any other country’s sovereignty or territorial integrity, including any country in the Middle East or North Africa, this would be condemned.

We have no information that anyone is planning to attack Israel.

Question: With roughly a month to go before the elections in Germany, head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution Hans-Georg Maassen, who is effectively head of German counterintelligence, made new statements about possible Russian interference. In the US case, you usually explained these sorts of statements as attempts to justify the Democrats’ failure in the elections, but how would you comment on the German allegations? What do they gain from this when Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel has such a popularity margin with a month to go before the elections?

Sergey Lavrov: I do not know why German intelligence is making statements about Russian meddling in the German election campaign. Perhaps they want to prove their effectiveness, but they have not provided a single fact. If it is facts we are talking about, it emerged some time ago that the American intelligence services were intercepting the Federal Chancellor’s conversations. I do not recall German counterintelligence commenting on this established fact in any way. That is all.




LATEST EVENTS

14.07.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the new invitation of the OPCW experts to the UK

Question: How would you comment on the recent statement of the FCO concerning the new invitation to the OPCW experts to visit the United Kingdom in the framework of the Amesbury incident investigation? Answer: Following the new invitation extended by the UK to the OPCW technical experts “to independently confirm the identity of the nerve agent”, which Charles Rowley and Dawn Sturgess have been exposed to, we would like remind of the fact that after the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury in March Russia proposed to the UK to use the mechanisms under Article IX, paragraph 2 of the CWC and carry out a joint investigation.


14.07.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning course of investigation of the Amesbury incident

Question: How would you comment on the recent statements that a small bottle containing nerve agent has been found in Amesbury? Answer: Unfortunately, Russia has no access to any official information concerning both the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal and other suspicious incidents in the UK, because the British side refuses to cooperate with us in any way possible. We cannot check or verify any British statements. As for this incident, we have to rely only on public statements, and we are almost sure that the British side will not be informing us directly.


11.07.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the activity of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down

Question: As early as in April the Russian Embassy requested assistance of the British side in arranging a meeting with Chief Executive of the Porton Down Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) Gary Aitkenhead and his colleagues. Have you managed to ascertain whether this secret lab had produced A-234 type agents that were allegedly used against the Skripals? Answer: Sadly, the FCO has ignored our query, which brings us to the conclusion that the British authorities wish to prevent us from communicating with experts who might have some information that is inconvenient for the Conservative government. In his interview to Sky News in April, Mr Aitkenhead himself did not deny the fact that his laboratory had produced and stockpiled nerve agents, including the so-called “novichok”. He added that they “would not be allowed to operate if we had lack of control that could result in anything leaving the four walls of our facility”.


09.07.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the death of Dawn Sturgess

Q.: How would you comment on the information concerning the death of the British citizen Dawn Sturgess, who, according to the British authorities, was poisoned by the same nerve agent that had been used against Sergei and Yulia Skripal? A.: We would like to express our sincere condolences to relatives and friends of Dawn Sturgess following her tragic death. We hope that the circumstances of her poisoning will be investigated in good faith and in accordance with high international standards, and the perpetrators will be brought to justice. As it stands now, the police investigation of the Skripals case is limited by political frameworks imposed by the current government.


06.07.2018 - From the Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, Moscow, July 5, 2018

Media coverage of the World Cup in Russia The 2018 FIFA World Cup continues to delight with its exciting football contests. Experts and fans are unanimous is their opinion that the matches have been spectacular. There’s no need to even mention the entertainment aspect of the tournament, as fans are clearly having the time of their lives when there are no matches to watch. According to our guests’ posts on social media, the atmosphere is fantastic not only in Moscow, but other host cities as well. We can see that the enthusiasm of the fans is rubbing off on the media, which is great. Indeed, we focus on these matters, because there was so much misinformation. This is not surprising, as it is difficult to make up stories now, because everyone can see everything with their own eyes, and the mudslinging directed at our country before the World Cup doesn’t work anymore.


05.07.2018 - Embassy press officer’s comment on the statement by Ben Wallace

Q: UK Minister of State for Security at the Home Office Ben Wallace stated that he is “waiting for the phone call from the Russian state” to get explanations of the “use of chemical weapons” in Salisbury. What should he expect? A: The Russian Ambassador to the UK is ready to meet Mr Wallace – we have requested meetings at the Home Office and Metropolitan Police several times, in relation to the Skripals case, as well as the murder of the Russian citizen Nikolay Glushkov. In both cases the FCO had suggested the Embassy should contact the police directly. Yet our letters to Scotland Yard met a resounding silence. If the British law enforcement authorities wish to end this silence and finally engaged in a substantial dialogue with Russia as envisaged in the international agreements signed by UK, we will be happy to have the opportunity to ask the many outstanding questions. We await Mr Wallace’s specific proposals as to when he will be available to meet.


05.07.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a question on the "Russian disinformation campaign" in the context of the Salisbury and Amesbury incidents

Q: Home secretary Sajid Javid has stated in Parliament that the Russian media are already producing multiple explanations of the incident in Amesbury and that a new disinformation campaign should be expected from the Kremlin. How could you comment on this? A: It is not the first time that British officials are speculating on “disinformation” and “numerous versions” produced by the Russian “pro-government media” regarding the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury and now of Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley in Amesbury. The Foreign Office has even provided us with the list of 28 “official Russian versions” of the Salisbury incident, among which, for example, they cited the following: “the UK poisoned Ivan the Terrible” and “the operation in Eastern Ghouta is aimed at freeing civilians from terrorists”.


05.07.2018 - Embassy press officer on UK reaction to the Amesbury incident

Q: Can you comment on statements by Home Secretary Sajid Javid and Security Minister Ben Wallace that Russia refuses to cooperate over the Salisbury poisoning and that after the Amesbury incident the Russian state must “come and tell us what happened in Salisbury to keep people safe”? A: All allegations of Russia’s involvement in the incidents in Salisbury and Amesbury are merely speculative and are not based on objective data of the investigation. As for the cooperation and information sharing, Russia has from the very outset proposed a joint investigation of the attempted murder of two Russian nationals. The proposal remains on the table. Unfortunately, the British investigation remains totally non-transparent. Our numerous questions on this matter remain unanswered. The UK authorities avoid any contact with the Russian side on this, or any other issues of concern. Moreover, London continues to blatantly violate its international obligations by refusing consular access to the Russian citizens, who remain isolated and are highly likely under duress by secrets service.


04.07.2018 - Answer to media question regarding the invitation of British dignitaries to the FIFA World Cup

Q: According to The Guardian, “Russia has sent out a fresh invitation to Theresa May” to visit the World Cup despite the UK “ministerial boycott”. Can you confirm this? A: No personal invitations for British political figures have been sent out and, consequently, none has been revoked. As we know, the decision not to attend the tournament on official level came from London. Moreover, there were calls in Britain to boycott the World Cup, and the media painted a bleak picture on Russia in the run-up to the event. FIFA World Cup a festival of sports for the whole world. Despite what The Guardian claims, we are not “trying to tempt” anyone in particular, but we’ll be glad to let everybody support their team. This also refers to Britain’s representatives – if UK dignitaries decide to come, they’ll encounter the same hospitality as the England players and supporters.


04.07.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning Russia’s requests for legal assistance in the two criminal cases related to the murder of Nikolay Glushkov and the attempted murder of Yulia Skripal

Q: The Embassy informed about two weeks ago that the British authorities had not provided any answers to the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation’s requests for legal assistance in the two criminal cases related to the murder of the Russian citizen Nikolay Glushkov and the attempted murder of the Russian citizen Yulia Skripal. Do you have any update? A: Unfortunately, we have not yet received any reply from the British side on this matter. The Embassy has recently forwarded another Note Verbale to the FCO to remind that in accordance with the 1959 European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters the Prosecutor General's Office of the Russian Federation has already sent three requests for legal assistance in the two criminal cases, namely those related to the murder of Nikolay Glushkov and the attempted murder of Yulia Skripal. As suggested by the FCO, we have contacted the Metropolitan Police and the Home Office for any updates on our requests, with no results so far.



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