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Remarks Before the Russia 2+2 Meeting, August 2013

Speakers: John Kerry, Chuck Hagel, Distinguished Professor, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, Sergey V. Lavrov, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, and Sergey Shoygu
Published August 9, 2013

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu met in Washington, D.C. on August 9, 2013, to discuss trade, nuclear threat reduction, and strategies to address crises in Syria and Egypt. Excerpt from Foreign Minister Lavrov's remarks:

"We were preparing a number of documents, a package of documents for approval at the meeting between the two presidents. I am referring to the statement on the comprehensive development of our cooperation in the context of the 80th anniversary of resumption of diplomatic relationship between our two countries we are celebrating this year. I'm also referring to the statement aimed at giving momentum to the development of trade and economic cooperation between our two countries. By design, presidents were supposed to adopt the statement in the presence of captains of business of the two countries, because we want economy to be way more dominant in our relations.

We also prepared number of statements on enhancing cooperation in combating drug threat, cooperation on – further cooperation – agreement on further cooperation of nuclear threat reduction centers, cooperation agreement on research and nuclear sector. So I want to highlight that we have laid very solid foundation for our future work, and once we start building on the foundation, once these – the instruments are approved, we will be able to enhance cooperation in different sectors, and significantly.

Today, naturally, we will discuss international issues, global security. In particular, John mentioned missile defense. We have been discussing this issue for a long time. First, we start – since we started discussions of the New START Treaty, we always spoke about missile defense, and we note with satisfaction that in his April letter to President Putin, President Obama recognized the need to take into account all factors that impact strategic stability when talking about reductions. In Lough Erne, our two presidents discussed steps that were proposed by our U.S. partners to increase transparency in the sector. Ministers of Defense of the two countries were given instructions in that respect, and at least we in Russia were prepared to table our proposals to the two presidents, and we will do so once their summit meeting takes place.

As regards crisis settlement, Syria indeed is on top of our agenda. Our goal is the same. We need to start political process. We need to stage Geneva 2 conference. And in my view, the most important task for the Geneva 2 would be honor the commitment of all G-8 leaders made in Lough Erne when they called upon both government and opposition to join efforts to fight terrorists and force them away from Syria. And I'm convinced that in the current day reality, especially in light of the fact and assessments we've been hearing lately, this is indeed our top priority.

Of course, Afghanistan is also important, Iranian nuclear program is, Korean peninsula nuclear issue, and many other topics will be discussed today. We are united by shared responsibility. We must prevent destabilization of the global situation. We must prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We need to ensure peaceful settlements of all crises by global community and avoid attempts to impose forced solutions irrespective of the situation. We've seen examples in the past, and we've seen that they are not working. Just like U.S., we want to see the situation get back to normal.

In Egypt, we want to see the national reconciliation process begin. We appreciate greatly efforts made by our U.S. colleagues and John Kerry personally. Especially, I'm referring to his efforts aimed at resumption of Israeli-Palestinian dialogue.

So the agenda is very intense. Of course, we have disagreements. We'll continue discussing matters on which we disagree calmly and candidly. I recall when I first met John in his capacity, his present-day capacity, and we were having this initial conversation, if I may put it that way, he told me that our countries have special responsibility, so we need to work as grown-ups. And this is what we do. And we hope that this will be reciprocal. Thank you."

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