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28 Jan, 2009 10:26

Lavrov says ‘no barriers’ for Dalai Lama visit

There are no barriers that cannot be surpassed if the Dalai Lama wishes to pay a visit to Russia, said Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

“We create no hindrance for communication between Russian Buddhists and the Dalai Lama. We are prepared to discuss his possible spiritual visit in the future,” the chief diplomat told, speaking to the upper chamber of the parliament, the Federation Council.

He added that Russia will certainly take into account China’s attitude to the Tibetan leader, should the issue be introduced into the agenda.

The foreign minister said the Kremlin hopes its relations with the White House will be ‘reloaded’ since the new administration took office in the U.S. There is a window of opportunity to switch the relation to a positive trend, and the recent conversation between Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama shows both sides are ready for this change.

One of the most important issues that requires Russia and America to show good will and the willingness to co-operate is the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-I), which expires this year.

Lavrov hopes Washington will not be putting pressure on other NATO members to make Ukraine and Georgia members of the alliance. According to him, Tbilisi’s attack against South Ossetia makes the country’s application for NATO membership questionable, especially given the fact that the organisation says it is not aggressive.

“It’s no secret that one of the factors that provoked Mikhail Saakashvili’s actions was the decision of the Bucharest summit, which said Ukraine and Georgia will be members of the alliance,” the Russian minister said.

Russia seeks to sign a new agreement on strategic partnership with the European Union, Lavrov said. This document must encompass the rules of the game that favour the interests of both sides.

He added Europe is a difficult partner for Moscow. “There are 27 countries, and some tried to call for European solidarity to further their own goals,” Lavrov said.

The talk on the new treaty will continue, and so far there is no ETA for it. Lavrov assured Russia and the EU have much in common, and will finally come to an agreement.