Time to fix US-Russia relations, Trump’s speech ‘remarkable’ – Lavrov after talks with Tillerson

Time to fix US-Russia relations, Trump’s speech ‘remarkable’ – Lavrov after talks with Tillerson
Moscow wants to put an end to mutual hostility with Washington, although it was not the one to start the confrontation, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said, adding that it remains to be seen how Trump’s UN speech will translate into actions.

READ MORE: Lavrov and Tillerson meet to talk Syria & Ukraine on UN General Assembly sidelines

Following a meeting with US State Secretary Rex Tillerson on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Lavrov said that it was time to bring US-Russian relations to a better level.

“We have discussed our bilateral relations… it’s clear that we must remedy them. We did not start this spiral of not very positive mutual actions and we are interested in returning to a normal state of bilateral relations,” the top Russian diplomat said.

Commenting on the maiden speech by US President Donald Trump at the UN General Assembly session on Tuesday, Lavrov commended its focus on the principle of sovereignty and equality in international relations.

“We should wait and see, of course, how these words will translate into practical actions,” he said.

Calling the speech “remarkable,” Lavrov added that it seems “it was targeted not only for the international audience, but also for the domestic one.”

Military contacts in Syria

Russian and US military officials continue to keep in touch over the operations in Syria conducted by Russia-backed Syrian armed forces and militias allied with Washington, Lavrov confirmed. He noted that the deconfliction mechanism is necessary to avoid any incidents that might impede the liberation of Raqqa from Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS,ISIL) and the ongoing offensive by the Syrian troops to mop up remaining terrorist pockets in Deir ez-Zor province.

READ MORE: Syria deconfliction zones ‘not dead’ despite Deir ez-Zor incident – Tillerson

“Our military continue to agree steps that are necessary not to harm the goal of fighting terror,” Lavrov said, adding that the issue of the Syrian crisis had topped the agenda of his meeting with Tillerson.

Going into the details of the conversation, Lavrov revealed that Tillerson reaffirmed that Washington recognizes Al-Nusra Front as a terrorist entity, adding that he hopes “this acknowledgement will be followed by actions on the ground.”

Concerns over North Korea & Iran deal

Washington’s saber-rattling rhetoric toward North Korea is not helping to alleviate the crisis and only heightens tensions on the Korean Peninsular, Lavrov argued, adding that Moscow is against putting labels on Pyongyang and calling it a “rogue state.”

READ MORE: Trump: US may have no choice but to ‘totally destroy’ North Korea

“If we just condemn and threaten, then we are likely to antagonize the countries that we want to influence. That’s why we prefer to work with all interested parties, to give them incentives to enter a dialogue,” Lavrov said.

“We have a principled position: we do not want to demonize anybody, we always try to understand the essence of the problem,” he added.

Trump’s vocal criticism of the Iran nuclear deal and repeated threats to walk out of the milestone agreement between Iran and five UN Security Council permanent members plus Germany are of great concern to Moscow, Lavrov said.

Moscow will stick to the deal and will do its best to defend “the consensus that was felt as a relief in the whole international community, and which has really strengthened, we have no doubt about it, regional stability, and even more broadly, international security,” the Russian foreign minister said.

READ MORE: ‘Washington will pay high price if it pulls out of Iran nuclear deal’ – Rouhani

Russian will reiterate its support for the agreement at the upcoming P5+1 ministers’ meeting scheduled for Wednesday, he said. The Iranian foreign minister will also be present at the meeting, which is set to review compliance with the deal.