Putin & Trump will likely have contact on sidelines of G20 - Lavrov
“We assume that contact will take place, since the two presidents will be at the same time in the same city, the same building, the same hall. It won’t be right, I guess, if they aren’t able to talk there and to discuss a lot of issues,” Lavrov said at a joint press conference with his German counterpart, Sigmar Gabriel, in Krasnodar on Wednesday.
The situation in Syria and Ukraine would not be the only issues Putin and Trump might discuss, Lavrov said, adding that the main focus should be on the "normalization" of US-Russia relations.
“First of all, we should try to achieve normalization of dialogue, so that the dialogue is based on the fundamental interests of both Russia and the US,” the Russian foreign minister said.
The German foreign minister hailed the possibility of a Putin-Trump meeting.
“The [German] Federal Government and I would hail a meeting between the presidents of Russia and the US in the G20 framework,” Gabriel said.
Anti-Russian sentiments which persist in Washington are harmful to the US itself and prevent the untangling of important global issues, according to Lavrov.
“We currently see a distorted picture, formed in Washington under the influence of Russophobic sentiments shared by many politicians,” Lavrov said.
“It harms the US itself, in my opinion, and definitely doesn’t help to solve international issues, which both Russia and the US could contribute to.”
Russia will ‘respond with dignity’ to possible US ‘provocation’ in Syria
The Russian foreign minister confirmed that his American counterpart, Rex Tillerson, had indeed told him about an alleged upcoming chemical attack by phone.
“A leak on what we’ve been exactly discussing, by the way, happened again on the American side,“ Lavrov said.
Russia’s foreign minister dismissed as “uninteresting” the US claims that it was impossible to declassify information on an alleged upcoming chemical attack in Syria.
“Hearing every time that there is 100 percent solid evidence, which could not be shared, as it was obtained through intelligence means and is secret – you know, it’s somewhat uninteresting for me already, since similar arguments are used to accuse Russia of organizing hacking attacks at the state-level, similar arguments of inability to reveal information are used in numerous other circumstances, be it Syria, or Libya, or something else,” Lavrov said.
The US statements on the allegedly upcoming chemical attack, already attributing them to the Syrian government, benefit only terrorist groups, as they might use them as a background for provocations, Lavrov said.
“The experts [in the US] openly write, that most likely, Washington’s warning will be used by extremists, who might organize a provocation and blame the Syrian Army for everything,” Lavrov warned.
“I’ll remind you also that the information on the April 4 alleged chemical attack in Khan-Sheikhoun emerged from eyewitnesses, seen by no one, but who allegedly were members of the White Helmets organization. They are notorious provocateurs, professional provocateurs, working only in territories controlled by terrorists. No one has seen them in government-held areas.”
If the information on the upcoming attack is used as a pretext for the US to attack Syrian troops, Russia will respond “with dignity,” Lavrov stated.
“We’ll react with dignity, in proportion to a real situation which might develop,” Lavrov said.