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Thursday, 17-01-2019
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Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions at a joint press conference following talks with Foreign Minister of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan Ayman Safadi, Sochi, May 3, 2018

Ladies and gentlemen,

Today, we discussed the state and prospects of bilateral relations between our countries with a focus on further developing them in keeping with the agreements between President of Russia Vladimir Putin and King Abdullah II of Jordan.

We highlighted the need to step up trade and economic cooperation. In this regard, we attach great importance to the fourth meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission for Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation, scheduled to take place in the third quarter of 2018.

We also discussed the prospects of expanding our cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy, as well as in education and humanitarian affairs. We expect the plans that are taking shape to materialise.

On the international agenda, we focused on the Syria settlement, for understandable reasons. We share the view that efforts to launch a political process must go hand in hand with a crackdown on the remaining terrorist groups. Russia and Jordan believe that all efforts to promote intra-Syrian dialogue must be aimed at achieving the objectives set out in UN Security Council Resolution 2254. We work together as part of the Astana process, where Jordan participates as an observer state. We also cooperate in upholding the ceasefire in the de-escalation area in Syria’s southwest near its border with Jordan. Today, we agreed to continue to cooperate on this important matter both bilaterally and in a trilateral format together with the United States and the monitoring centre.

The Israeli-Palestinian settlement is a matter of grave concern for us. We believe that the resolutions adopted by the UN must be respected. We call for resuming direct dialogue between the Palestinians and the Israelis without delay. Let me remind you that it was Russia that issued an invitation to the leaders of Palestine and Israel for arranging a direct dialogue between them without preconditions. This proposal still stands.

We also reviewed other Middle East matters, including developments in Iraq, noting that there was no alternative to settling crises though inclusive dialogue bringing together all ethnic and religious groups.

We reaffirmed our positive view of Jordan’s role in regional affairs, including with regard to Jerusalem, which should remain the capital for three world religions.

All in all, I believe that we had fruitful talks. I would like to thank my colleague and friend Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan Ayman Safadi for our close cooperation. We will keep up these regular contacts.

Question: Will the settlement process in the two de-escalation zones in Eastern Ghouta and near Homs impact the third de-escalation zone in southern Syria? How can it impact the political settlement in Syria in general?

Sergey Lavrov: The de-escalation zones were created on a temporary basis, proceeding from the assumption that they would cease to exist after the tasks they were designed to address were accomplished and people could return to peaceful life. But the de-escalation regime certainly does not apply to terrorists, who should be exterminated in keeping with the UN Security Council’s decisions. In Eastern Ghouta, this problem has been mostly solved, because the groups that were either consolidated with Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorist units, or breached the ceasefire themselves, have been largely eliminated or withdrawn from there. Accordingly, the Syrian Government has restored its control over Eastern Ghouta and accomplished its mission in the de-escalation zone in this part of Syria. We hope that the tasks of eliminating threats and resuming peaceful life will be fulfilled in the southern de-escalation zone as well. We have come to terms with our Jordanian friends on continuing the dialogue both on a bilateral basis and with the participation of the Americans in Amman, where a specialised monitoring mechanism has been established to monitor the implementation of the agreements in the southern zone.

It is clear that the matters related to settlement in this part of Syria should be considered comprehensively, including with regard for the developments at Al-Tanf, where the Americans have unilaterally declared a large territory with a radius of 55 kilometres as their “domain,” as well as with regard for the situation, as mentioned by my colleague here, at the Rukban refugee camp. Some very odd things are happening in this area, where the Americans have unilaterally declared the territory around Al-Tanf as their zone, and at the Rukban refugee camp, including the training of militants in progress there in order for them to continue combat operations in violation of ceasefire agreements.     

As for the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Rukban refugee camp, the Americans for quite long refused to open access there to humanitarian convoys under the pretext that the Syrian Government allegedly withheld its permission. This is not the case. All problems have been solved between the Syrian Government and the humanitarian institutions. Now, the United States is, in effect, refusing to provide sufficient security guarantees for the delivery of humanitarian cargoes to the camp. The Americans suggest that the humanitarian convoys reach the confines of the Rukban camp and let the residents distribute aid inside at their own discretion. We repeatedly watched, including in Eastern Aleppo and in Eastern Ghouta, how humanitarian aid delivered in this way was either “privatised” by the militants or resold at triple price. So, this is neither a way out, nor a solution to the problem. To reiterate: the entire set of issues related to normalising the situation in southern Syria near the Jordanian border must be considered holistically.

Question:  Earlier this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went on record as saying that Israeli intelligence had managed to obtain data on Tehran’s plans to advance in the sphere of nuclear weapons. What is Russia’s take on such statements by the Israeli Prime Minister? What will be Moscow’s reaction if President Trump declares on May 12 that the US withdraws from the JCPOA?

Sergey Lavrov: If Israel or anyone else has obtained documents that, as claimed, confirm Iran’s continued plans to develop nuclear weapons, these should be immediately handed over to the IAEA responsible for the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Judging by what I hear from experts, who participated in talks on drafting this plan of action, it is highly likely that these documents are related to past activities that were taken into account by the IAEA inspections. Let me remind you that Iran is currently undergoing the most intrusive IAEA inspections ever.

As for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action itself, this agreement, as President Putin repeatedly emphasised, including during his recent telephone conversation with Prime Minister Netanyahu, should be strictly implemented by all the signatories, the more so that it was later approved by the UN Security Council without any changes. If the US withdraws from this agreements, as President Trump repeatedly has promised, all of us, the international community, will lose one of the most important instruments supporting the WMD non-proliferation regime.

Question: British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres discussed reforming the UN yesterday. Why do you think reforms are increasingly being discussed? Do you agree with the Secretary-General’s view that the UN Security Council no longer reflects the balance of power in the world?

Sergey Lavrov: The UN Security Council certainly needs an upgrade. I agree that the current composition of this most important body no longer reflects the real power relationships that exist in the world. New centres of economic growth, financial power and political influence have come into being with the emergence of a multipolar world.

One-third of seats on the 15-member UN Security Council (five permanent and ten non-permanent members) belong to the Western group of countries, which has three permanent and two non-permanent seats. Of course, this is an inadequate reflection of the realities existing in the world.

The main problem is how to deal with a situation where the developing regions of the world are substantially under-represented at this UN body. We have consistently worked for this injustice to be redressed and for the UN Security Council to be replenished with representatives of developing Asian, African and Latin American countries. We have repeatedly stated that such countries as, for example, India and Brazil are strong candidates for permanent membership on the UN Security Council, when it is decided to expand it. Simultaneously it certainly should include representatives of Africa. This is also a mandatory condition of a fair reform. 



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