Remarks With Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
Secretary of State
FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: (Via interpreter) I would like to reaffirm that the recent meeting between Her Excellency Secretary of State of the United States Madam Hillary Clinton and the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev reaffirmed the fact that our relations are now on the rise. They’ve obtained new dynamics (inaudible) and reaching quality to a new level.
So the President highlighted that last year we’ve managed to perform a true reset in our relationship to turn down, to turn back the – reverse the degrading of our relations that was in place before the Obama Administration came to power and increase the intensity on our content at all levels of executive power.
Our relations today are conducted in accordance with the principles of honesty, openness and full compliance with all agreements arranged. The President highlighted specifically that he is very satisfied with how Geneva negotiators comply with tasks that are formulated for them by Presidents Obama and Medvedev accordingly and that he hopes that in short period of time they will be able to complete negotiations of the new START Treaty.
He also highlighted that they would reach specific agreements that would allow to step up our cooperation that would modernize Russian economy, would put it in on more nominative tract and that will be done using specific instruments.
As to international agendas, special attention was given to the Iranian nuclear program and Afghanistan sentiment. We share understanding that along those two problems, just like in many other cases, we need come up with coordinated, collective approaches and then implement them efficiently. And in this context, Russian president reaffirmed Russia’s readiness and desire to cooperate with the U.S. and other partners along this and other tracts.
So in conclusion, let me say a few words about my personal impressions from this meeting. I believe that the reset was a true success and we needn’t stop. At this point we need to continue advancing. We need to avoid any interruptions in this cooperation. And I believe that this visit of Madam Secretary of State can be considered as fueling in the air.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Let me echo Minister Lavrov’s comments. As President Medvedev said at the very beginning of our meeting, the reset has been a success. And now we have to build on the relationships that we have developed, starting between our two presidents, and going throughout our governments.
The bilateral commission that Sergey and I direct under the leadership of our Presidents is making a lot of progress. Let me give you just one example. Just recently there was a delegation from the United States consisting of high technology companies that came to Russia, visited with many businesses and academic institutions and innovators looking for ways to deepen the relationship between our high-tech businesses and academic institutions.
Later this spring there will be a exchange between young people as part of our sports program where young Russians will come to the United States for the purpose of playing basketball. So our relationship is not just between our governments, it is increasingly between the American and Russian people.
As Sergey said, we are very encouraged by progress on a new START agreement. Our negotiating teams have reported that they have resolved all of the major issues and there are some technical issues that remain, but we are on the brink of seeing a new agreement between the United States and Russia.
We also discussed a range of other issues from Iran to Afghanistan and so much more as our part of our ongoing consultation. And we look forward to welcoming President Medvedev back to Washington for the Nuclear Security Summit in a few weeks.
Again, I thank Minister Lavrov for his hospitality and the very cooperative working relationship that we enjoy.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Russian TV channel NTV. So my question goes to both ministers. You’ve mentioned that in terms of new START agreement negotiations only some technicalities remain to be agreed. So my question is as follows: Does the link between the reduction of strategic offense arms and the deployment of U.S. ABM system facilities in Europe exist and whether – as far as I understand, you have not identified the timeframes for signing this new START Treaty. But do you think it might happen? Have you at least come up with a location? Will it happen in Washington or some rumors ago that it might be in Kiev, or are you for Prague?
And Sergey – Minister Lavrov, do you really think – do you really expect to hear – answer to that question immediately?
FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: (Via interpreter) So answering your first question I can say last April, when the first meeting of the two presidents took place, they issued a statement in which they stated that there is a link between strategic offensive and defensive weapons and the current teams of negotiations when they – and they’ve instructed their governments to take this relationship into account. And current teams of negotiators that work in Geneva at the moment act in accordance with the tasks that were formulated by the president – in particular in accordance with the tasks formulated by the president. I want to be interpreted exactly – literally, I would say.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Let me say that we are very pleased by progress that has been made. And we hope and expect that there will be a signing in the near future. But as Sergey said, we are not going to preempt any announcement of place or time on this occasion.
Because I’m not bilingual, you can say anything and I’ll agree.
QUESTION: Good afternoon. Mark Landler from The New York Times. Also a question for both of you. It has been seven months since the disclosure of the secret Iranian nuclear facility at Qom, three months since the Iranian government rejected the offer of enrichment for the Tehran research reactor, and one month since the government of Iran announced it would begin enriching uranium up to 20 percent. And yet, after (inaudible) an international solidarity on how to confront Iran are continuing and taking by all accounts longer than anyone had hoped, there have been some comments recently from diplomats that we might not see a UN resolution until June.
My question is simply whether you worry that the clock is in some sense running out? And what you would hope to do to speed up this process?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, we have pursued the diplomatic track and thought it was correct to do so. We are now, however, at the stage where we are asking for action and are working very hard in the Security Council to attain a resolution expressing the international community’s disapproval of Iranian actions and pulling together the world in a regime of smart sanctions, as President Medvedev has referred to them, that will try to change the behavior of the Iranian leadership. And we believe we are making progress because many countries are seeing what you have briefly summarized along with the latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency, and we expect to reach consensus around an appropriate response.
FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: (Via interpreter) What I can add is that we follow very closely all the information that is published in the media including your media, The New York Times, about new facts that are somehow in one way or another linked with any suspicions on the Iranian nuclear program. We would, of course, prefer that those people that obtain such information publish it immediately without any delays. But I want to highlight that we do follow it closely. But of course, we’re guided not by assessments given by media people or political analysts but the IAEA specialists, which is an internationally recognized instrument of the international community in this world. And reports that IAEA Director General publishes on regular basis contains very precise assessment that do not give reasons to any sort of alarms.
But that does not mean that we are satisfied with the Iranian actions. What we see is that they are letting the opportunity to establish normal, respectful, mutually beneficial dialogue with the international community slip away. And this dialogue was put on the table by the IAEA and the 3+3 format.
So we are continuing our consultations with Iran. We believe that they need to comply with statements made or with requirements that were once put on the table by the IAEA and were reaffirmed on numerous occasions by the Security Council. So we’ll try to make them comply with them, but we do not exclude the possibility that additional work in the UN Security Council might be required.
As President Medvedev put it on numerous occasions, sanctions are never beneficial, but there are some instances where they are impossible to avoid, and the Iranian case might be one of such instance. And as President Medvedev also mentioned on a number of occasions and he reaffirmed that today that sanctions must be smart. They must not be aggressive. They must not paralyze the life of Iranian state. They must not degrade the humanitarian situation and the country. They must not be targeted against the population but rather against those people that are in charge of the decision making process and that identified already in position on the international arena.
And we reaffirmed to our U.S. partners today that we are prepared to continue our cooperation in accordance with the outlined principles. I thank you.