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PRESS RELEASE


Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov Meets Press After Trump Meeting

May 10, 2017 (EIRNS)—Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held a press conference today, after his meeting with President Trump, before flying to Alaska for the meeting of the Arctic Council. He spoke in Russian, simultaneously translated into English. No written transcript is yet available. He emphasized over and over that the Obama Administration had brought the relationship to the point of severe crisis for no reason, while the Trump Administration is working toward solving the real problems in the world.

A paraphrase from the translation follows.

Lavrov said that the U.S. and Russia can and should contribute to a settlement in Syria. The U.S. and Russia agreed to work together in the Astana framework, and the Geneva format, which is supposed to resume meeting next week. He expressed his hope that "all [government and the opposition parties] will be constructive in the next Geneva meeting." He said that he, President Trump, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had discussed the Israeli, Afghanistan, and Minsk areas, and agreed to continue the bilateral relations.

Questioned how the relations between the United States and Russia had sunk to such a low level, Lavrov said,

"The previous Administration bent over backwards to undermine the solid foundation of our relations. Now we have to start from a very low level [of relations] between Russia and America."

Lavrov repeated,

"It is clear that the Obama Administration undertook pitiful dirty tricks against our diplomats and our properties. President Putin doesn’t want to follow the lead of those trying to poison our relations to the point of no return."

Lavrov acknowledged that he and President Trump and Secretary Tillerson discussed irritants to the relationship, but Lavrov stated, President Trump is interested in "businesslike, pragmatic relations," as is President Putin. Lavrov posed the question on Russian interference in U.S. elections, "How can it be possible for Russia to control America from the outside?"

On Syria, Lavrov referenced the "de-escalation areas," an idea he credited Secretary Tillerson with bringing to Moscow, which is now being implemented. The United States is responsible for the de-escalation area in the south, for security compliance and humanitarian needs, because the Syrian-Jordanian-Israeli border region is a special area of interest for the United States. There will be Geneva talks on Syria in mid-May, Lavrov said we hope they are successful for all sides.

Lavrov said,

"Our dialogue as of now is free from ideology, which was difficult in the Obama administration. President Trump and Secretary Tillerson are businesslike people... willing to negotiate and come to an agreement."

Lavrov dismissed the idea that President Trump would consider it necessary to probe Russia’s role in U.S. politics.

"There’s no evidence. That’s it," Lavrov concluded.

Lavrov stated that Putin and Trump would meet on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in July, and meanwhile discussions would continue with Rex Tillerson.

In Afghanistan, Lavrov dismissed any notion Russia was supporting the Taliban, but said that any settlement would have to involve the Taliban. "Americans stayed there for many years, and did not settle any question."

Russia has no strategy in Syria, except working within the Astana framework, as we have all agreed.

"We need to prevent a repeat of Iraq and Libya—we must focus on a settlement, not ousting a person [Assad]. President Trump thinks it is most important to defeat terrorism. We agree.

"We discussed our common understanding of the de-escalation zones, which was the idea of the U.S. We hope that all participants will be constructive. We also discussed the Israeli, Afghan, and Minsk areas, and agreed to continue working on these. The previous administration bent over backwards to break our relations. Now we have to start from a very low level, but we understand that both Russia and America want to live in accord. President Trump wants to build businesslike relations with Russia. President Putin is ready to remove irritants from our bilateral relations."