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“Russia and UK share objective interest in cooperation”

Russia and the United Kingdom are both interested in increasing cooperation to find solutions to international and regional problems, said Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrey Nesterenko.

In his weekly address to the media, Andrey Nesterenko has also elaborated on Vladimir Putin’s negotiations with Lokke Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark, progress in START talks with the US and many other issues.

RT presents the full transcript of the address.

On November 2nd in Moscow, the Head of the Government of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, held negotiations with the Prime Minister of Denmark, Lokke Rasmussen. It was their first personal meeting, covering a wide range of issues. Firstly, bilateral trade. As a result of the negotiations, the Russian Prime Minister noted with satisfaction that they managed to keep a constructive dialogue on basically all issues in Russian-Danish co-operation. According to him, such a constructive approach from both sides inspires optimism.

We expressed hope that, in the long run, such a disposition will allow us to considerably advance Russian-Danish relationships, especially as our political contacts have been developing dynamically lately; the economic, scientific, education, cultural co-operation as well as co-operation in other areas of humanities is also expanding.

The co-operation in the energy, industrial, transportation and agricultural spheres is developing rather intensively. We have common and concurring interest in the Arctic.

Detailed information on the Russian-Danish negotiations can be found on the Russian Federation government’s website.

Lavrov – Miliband’s talks

On the 1st and 2nd of November, Sergei Lavrov held negotiations with the British Foreign Minister, David Miliband, who was in Moscow on a working visit. The negotiations showed that, despite certain remaining problems in the Russian-British relationship, our countries have an objective interest in increasing co-operation in the directions specified in our bilateral agenda, as well as in finding solutions for topical international and regional problems. The ministers noted with satisfaction a certain positive dynamic in the recent development in political dialogue between our countries. A mutual understanding was reached on the importance of activating interdepartmental contacts.

They noted the ability of Russian-British trade, economic and investment connections to withstand factors from the political environment, as well as the worsening situation in the world’s economy and finances. They remarked on the continuing high level of British business presence in the Russian market and on the active trade exchange between our countries.

In order to further promote cultural ties, the ministers agreed to work on holding a number of mutual cultural events in both countries in 2011.

Significant attention was given to international topics: first and foremost to European affairs. They considered the strengthening of security in the Euro-Atlantic area and, in connection with that, the initiative of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to sign the European Security Treaty. The ministers discussed the problems of disarmament, including the strengthening of the multi-sided regimes of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. They also touched upon burning regional issues such as Iran, Afghanistan and Middle East regulation in particular.

As a result of the talks, they accepted three joint statements on Afghanistan, the problems of the Middle East peace process and nuclear non-proliferation with regards to the Nuclear on-Proliferation Treaty.
Full texts of those statements can be found on the Russian Foreign Ministry website.

UK – Russia trade and investment summit

As for the 7th session of the Intergovernmental Russian-British Committee for Trade and Investments that took place in London (of which the co-chairman on Russia’s side is Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Alexei Kudrin), I would like to note a very intensive and specific nature of the agenda – certain priorities and practical tasks concerning the main directions of the Russian-British trade and economic co-operation; in particular on interregional co-operation, co-operation over energy (including energy efficiency and energy savings), high technologies (including nanotechnologies) and concerning small and medium business. The results of the session are in the joint statement of the co-chairmen of the Committee. We expect the work of the Committee to further promote the revival of trade and economic ties between Russia and Great Britain, as well as extending dialogue between business circles in our countries.

Following the results of the session, Finance Minister Kudrin held an expanded press conference during which he summed up the results of the dialogue between Russia and Great Britain on trade and economy.

Sergei Lavrov’s visit to Cyprus

Lavrov was received by the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Dimitris Christofias. The high development of Russian-Cyprus relations, buttressed by a long tradition of friendship and understanding between the two countries, was confirmed. The intention was expressed to continue their intensive co-operation in various areas based on the Joint Declaration on further intensifying relations of friendship and comprehensive co-operation between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Cyprus, signed on November 19, 2008 during the official visit to Russia by Cyprus President Christofias.

The situation in the intercommunity talks on settlements in Cyprus was discussed. Russia confirmed its’ immutable, principled position in favour of a just, viable and comprehensive solution based on the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the voluntary consent of the Cypriots themselves –Greeks and Turks.

The UN Security Council has determined the basic principles regarding settlement. The key one is to reach accord between the sides themselves. This principle is not subject to being contested by either side. In this sense deciding artificial time limits for reaching accord contradicts common sense and the UN Security Council decision. Imposing any decision in the form of arbitration or any other form against either side’s will is not a part of the principles that have been determined by the UN Security Council.

The Minister also met with the President of the House of Representatives, Marios Karoyan, in Nicosia. They examined the possibilities for further deepening the parliamentary dimension of co-operation.

During the talks in Nicosia, the Ministers stated that both sides have been undertaking active steps towards the further development of co-operation in all areas. There is readiness for developing new areas of co-operation as well. On the economy, it means building up investments, mostly in the form of joint ventures such as tourism infrastructure, construction, communications and new technologies. Our countries agreed to it during the intergovernmental commission. We trust that its’ co-chairmen will discuss progress in their plans in the near future.

Large opportunities open up as well in relation to preparations for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Cypriot businessmen have already visited the Russian Federation, including the Krasnodar region, where they learnt about their opportunities in this area.

During the talks with Cyprus’ Minister of Foreign Affairs, Markos Kyprianou, both exchanged views on a wide range of bilateral and international issues. Ways to increase Russian-Cyprus co-operation at the interagency level were discussed, as well as prospects for bilateral collaboration in various international institutions: the UN, Russia-EU mechanisms, the OSCE.

Following the talks, a co-operation program between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Cyprus in science, education and culture for 2009-2012 was signed. The Ministers also endorsed a Plan of Consultations between the Russian and Cypriot Ministries of Foreign Affairs for 2010-2011.

Sergei Lavrov’s visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov paid a working visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina on November 5th, where he held talks with the Presidium of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Chairman of the Council of Ministers, Nikola Spiric, and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sven Alkalaj.

Attention was mainly paid to discussing topical issues in bilateral relations, including political dialogue, and the principal lines of economic and trade co-operation. Mutual interest in reinforcing the legal framework for relations between the two countries was stated and agreement to expedite work on draft basic agreements in the economic cluster was reached. They also expressed willingness to work vigorously towards settlement of mutual financial obligations.

Questions of collaboration within the UN Security Council were discussed in the light of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s election as a non-permanent member for 2010-2011. There was discussion on European affairs, particularly on implementing the Russian initiative for a European Security Treaty. A plan of consultations between the Foreign Ministries of Russia and Bosnia and Herzegovina was endorsed.

In discussing the implementation of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Russia underlined the urgency to set a concrete timeframe for the long-planned transformation by the Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council, the Office of the High Representative into a Mission, and the EU Special Representative as per the agreed terms, without added requirements.

I’d like to remind you that Russia is a member of Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council for the Dayton Accord. It contains decisions that had been supported by three ethnic groups forming the state. They embrace principles and criteria required for the above-mentioned transformation of the Office of the High Representative, liquidation of its so-called Bonn powers and the resolution for all issues regarding Bosnoa and Herzegovina by the Bosnians themselves without the external observation. In my opinion, this is a long-standing step required for strengthening the Bosnian statehood and for putting the country’s destiny in the hands of Bosnians.

During his stay in Sarajevo, Lavrov also conversed with Milorad Dodik, the Prime Minister of Republika Srpska. They examined the dynamics of realising large-scale joint investment projects and identified the major challenges for the future.

In a separate meeting between Sergei Lavrov and the High Representative in B&H, Valentin Inzko, Russia particularly emphasised that the use of the HR’s emergency (Bonn) powers for dubious reasons is unacceptable and can only serve to undermine stability in the country.

START talks progress

I received this question: Is there any progress in the negotiations on an agreement due to replace the START Treaty? What is the Russian reaction to the U.S. proposals that were made during the visit to Russia paid by White House National Security Advisor James L. Jones?

Yesterday, I partially answered this question. I can repeat that the Russia-U.S. negotiations on START have been practically non-stop. On Monday 9th November, the 8th round starts in Geneva. We hope it will be the final one and that, by 5th December, the new treaty will be approved. Both delegations have clear instructions from their presidents about it. The atmosphere at these talks has been business-like and constructive. Both sides are aware of their responsibility and are doing their utmost to provide the required results. We do have progress. I cannot disclose the contents of discussions. We agreed with our American partners on confidentiality from the very beginning. I believe you’re well aware of the reasons for this. I mean the specifics of the issues in discussion.

Regarding the second part of the question – last week’s meeting in Moscow. I can say that the proposals made during the recent visit by White House National Security Advisor James L. Jones will hopefully bring our positions closer and achieve a balanced document that will meet the interests of both states, i.e. strengthening international security.

On Iran’s Official Reply to IAEA

Question: Does the Foreign Ministry have any information on whether or not the IAEA received an official Iranian reply to the uranium enrichment proposal? How can you comment on the situation as a whole?

We proceed from the assumption that all parties involved in developing a mechanism for exporting Iran’s low-enriched uranium for additional enrichment, and the making of fuel assemblies for Tehran’s Research Reactor (TRR) are concerned with its successful implementation on the basis of the relevant framework agreement circulated by the IAEA Director- General. We hope Tehran will shortly submit to the IAEA its official positive reply. Any technical details that will inevitably arise in the process of implementation can be settled as the understanding is translated into practice.

Speaking in New York on November 2, IAEA Director-General Dr. Muhammad El Baradei, among other things, touched upon the matter of fuel supplies for the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR). He said the suggested scheme was a unique and “fast-flowing” chance for turning from confrontation to co-operation, a chance that mustn’t be lost. Dr. El Baradei also urged Iran to react in a fully-constructive way to his proposals and to offer a reply at its earliest opportunity. We fully support Dr. El Baradei on that. We believe that a successful implementation of this project will make it possible to create the necessary atmosphere of trust for a substantive dialogue and on other matters.

Six party talk prospects

Question: What are the prospects of restarting the six-party process of denuclearising the Korean Peninsula, considering the message that Pyongyang is willing to renew discussion of the nuclear program, provided Washington first agrees to hold direct negotiations with North Korea and on providing weapons-grade plutonium to North Korea.

As we know, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-il has declared his readiness for multi-lateral negotiations, including the six-nation talks, on the Korean Peninsula nuclear problem. He explained it through progress in bilateral negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington. We have stated on a number of occasions that we positively regard contracts on the North Korean nuclear issue in any format, with the understanding that they have been made within the framework of approved approaches; that they are transparent for other participants of the six-party process and that they enable progress of the six-party negotiations. We trust that our colleagues from North Korea and the U.S. will find common ground very soon.

Regarding information about the extraction and weapons-grade development of plutonium from used fuel rods in the Yongbyon reactor – this step can hardly be seen as one enabling a favourable atmosphere for negotiations. At the same time, we’d like to ask you not to dramatise this fact. Pyongyang’s actions do not bring anything principally new into the situation.
The 64th session of the UN General Assembly had reviewed the agenda issue ‘On the need for the cessation of the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba’.

There were 187 votes in favour of the resolution, which is the majority of international community members; there were three votes against (the United States, Israel, Palau) and two abstentions.
The Russian delegation supported the resolution and evaluated the continuing blockade as an anarchism that doesn’t meet today’s realities.

Results of the voting testify to the unprecedented support in efforts aimed at supporting the abolishment of unilateral sanctions by the US.

On 5th November, Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs performed operational searches in a number of places in Moscow. The Bulgarian Industrial Centre was among them. The results are being studied. This operation was not directed against the Bulgarian Industrial Centre, and was carried out in full compliance with Russian and international law.

As far as the question about the diplomatic status of the Centre is concerned, it generates serious doubts. More specifically, it has not been written down in the documents under which the Centre was founded. This refers to the Treaty of 13th July 1974 between the governments of the USSR and the People’s Republic of Bulgaria on the co-operation and further improvement of technical maintenance for machinery, equipment and devices supplied in mutual trade.

Moreover, the Bulgarian Industrial Centre leases offices to a few dozen Bulgarian firms which rules out any possibility of any diplomatic status it might have under the Vienna Convention of 1961, which cannot apply to these companies.

Afghani presidential elections results

On 2nd November, Afghanistan's independent election commission cancelled the presidential runoff and proclaimed President Hamid Karzai the victor. Russia is satisfied with the closure of the election process in Afghanistan. This opens the way for the formation of a new national Government which has a lot of work to do on stabilising the situation in the country, on its social and economic recovery with support provided by the international community; the UN playing the central co-ordination in that. We challenge Afghanistan to unite its patriotic efforts for the sake of the country’s future. We wish the re-elected President Karzai and the Afghan nation success in moving along the road of democracy in the interests of strengthening Afghanistan as a strong, independent and prosperous state.

Russia intends to keep providing assistance to the traditionally-friendly Afghan state while developing co-operation in political, economic and humanitarian areas as well as fighting against terrorism and drug trafficking.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev congratulated Hamid Karzai on being re-elected at President of Afghanistan. The complete text is posted on the Russian president’s website.

New provocation by Georgian authorities

“The Georgian authorities continue their provocative actions against Russian citizens visiting Georgia,” the Russian Foreign Office states. “Yanosh Kenkadze, living in the Krasnodar Territory, who arrived in Georgia to meet his mother, turned out to be in jeopardy this time.”

He felt increased attention towards him, even at the border in late September. A border guard painstakingly recorded his address and contact telephone numbers in Georgia. On October 26th, two people who called themselves ‘members of the secret services’ came to Kenkadze’s residence. However, they did not show any ID or other documents. Without explanation, they seized the Russian passport of our citizen saying that, to get it back, he was ‘to come for a conversation’, after calling a given telephone number’.

The relevant comment has been posted on the Foreign Ministry website.

In our opinion, this widely-used lawlessness pursues a quite definite goal. In actual fact, nobody tries to conceal this goal: the Georgian foreign minister bluntly said recently, “it is necessary that Georgia should forget Russia”. For this purpose, it is not enough to sever diplomatic relations, according to the logic of the present rulers in Tbilisi. It is necessary to do away with human, kindred and family contacts binding Russian-Georgian good-neighbourly relations for centuries. That is why any ethnic Georgian, coming from Russia to Georgia to visit his family, or to tidy up the graves of his ancestors, really risks landing behind bars. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine a greater mockery of values which have been, incidentally, always sacred to the Georgian people.

Situation in Honduras

As we know, on 30th October, representatives of Manuel Zelaya and Roberto Micheletti (in the presence of Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Shannon and a representative of the Organisation of American States) signed a settlement treaty. According to it, 5th November was determined as the final date for forming the national reconciliation government and for returning Manuel Zelaya to the post of the government’s leader. So far the results have been rather fragile. The lawful head of the state, Manuel Zelaya, hasn’t yet returned to his post. The national reconciliation government hasn’t been formed yet, in spite of the fact that the cabinet of ministers of the defacto government has already been dismissed. At the same time I’d like to note the importance of the fact that the conflicting parties sat at the negotiating table to look for a mutually-acceptable solution. We hope that wisdom and a responsible approach will rule, and that the conflict will be resolved within the legal framework and interests of the Honduran nation.

Piracy and specific incidents

As was said earlier, on 30th October, the Russian Consulate General in Shanghai received a message from the owner of the ship ‘Orient Wind’ (Cambodia-flagged; 12 crewmen are Russian citizens) about the detention of this vessel in Shanghai port. According to the ship’s owner, The Morservice Company, the ship was arrested as a result of a clash between the ‘Orient Wind’ and the Chinese cargo ship ‘Dee High 16’ in the East China Sea on 13th June 2009.

The owner of ‘Orient Wind’ and the Shanghai port administration have contradictory versions over who is to blame for the accident that happened in June. Moreover, the ship’s owner disputes the rightfulness of financial claims presented by the port administration for damage and repairs to the ship. According to the Morservice Company, these are not necessary. Until this issue is settled, the ship remains detained in Shanghai port.

The Consulate General is maintaining contact with the ship’s captain, the ship’s owner and the marine agent in order to provide consular assistance and, if necessary, the protection of the legal rights for the Russian citizens. The crew of ‘Orient Wind’ has been provided with all necessary items.

Russia proceeds from the assumption that this issue has to be settled as soon as possible in accordance with international law. We continue to follow this situation and provide assistance to our citizens. However I want you to note that the actual incident happened in June this year, but our Consulate General was only informed about it several weeks ago.

‘Thai Union’ hijacking

I was asked about the situation with the ship ‘Thai Union’, which was hijacked by Somali pirates with 23 Russian citizens onboard.

‘Thai Union-3’ is currently located off the coast of Somalia. According to information from the vessel’s owner (Thai company Samui Fishing), the ship has enough fuel, fresh water, and food onboard. Contact with the pirates has been established, and the owner is currently negotiating the terms and conditions to release the ship and the crew.

This is a delicate situation. We hope it will be resolved in the quickest time.

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for its part, is keeping track of the situation. I’d like to use the opportunity to note that all Russian citizens who’re members of various ship crews sailing to various destinations can inform the Russian Foreign Ministry or our diplomatic representations in different countries near which they are sailing, of their whereabouts. This information could be used in order to contact them if necessary.

Humanitarian aid to Nicaragua

Following a visit in February to the Republic of Nicaragua of representatives of OAO Farmstandart (Director General I.K. Krylov), its shareholders decided to supply humanitarian aid amounting to 200,000 U.S. dollars in the form of medicinal drugs, medical equipment and healthcare products to Nicaragua’s Health Ministry.

The Embassy of the Russian Federation in Managua helped carry out the necessary preparatory and organisation (the list of drugs was co-ordinated, the consignee’s requisites were determined for contract purposes, etc). In late October, a ceremony was held in the Nicaragua’s capital, Managua, during the course of which the two containers were handed over to Nicaragua. The total weight of the drugs and healthcare products that will be distributed between ten Managua-based medical centres was 23 metric tons. The drugs are mostly meant for treating acute respiratory diseases and cardiovascular diseases. The gift-handing ceremony was addressed by Ambassador I.S. Kondrashev of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Nicaragua.

Russian tourists missing in China

Russian tourists Sergey Lyagin and Andrey Mikhailichenko addressed the local social security department of one of the mountain regions, Sichuan Province. They said their fellow travelers, Igor Sherstnev and Anfisa Krashenina, got caught in an avalanche near the Camel Peak (‘Luotuo’ in Chinese) in the Siguan Mountains. The tragedy happened on 28th October, 200km from the provincial centre, Chenghdu city. The authorities immediately sent rescue teams and assistance from regional and provincial sources. The search is being complicated by unfavourable weather conditions (low temperatures, strong snowfall, continuous avalanches). According to experts, there is practically no chance of finding the tourists alive. As of 5th November, the Chinese authorities stopped the recovery operation which is due to restart in January 2010, when weather conditions will enable a better search.

The missing climbers are residents of Blagoveshensk city. A group of 4 Russians arrived at the base camp of Camel Peak on 20th October, to explore the area for a prospective climb. According to local authorities, the Russians hadn’t supplied any applications for climbing, thus their stay in the mountains is viewed by the Chinese as unsanctioned. We want to note that instances of Russians ignoring Chinese rules regulating extreme sports have become more frequent recently. Unfortunately this leads to tragic consequences. Anyway, our embassy in Beijing is keeping close contact with the Chinese authorities on this matter.

Thank-you for your attention. I’m ready to answer your questions now.

Questions from journalists

Q: How does the Foreign Ministry evaluate the results of the US-EU Summit? What were the reasons for President Obama to hold it?

AN: This summit had indeed taken place several days ago. The U.S.-EU Summit took place on 3rd November. Such summits take place regularly, and the recent one was no exception. Such meetings which involve Russia’s key partners in the international arena are certainly of interest to us. We noticed that, during the summit, the decision was made to establish the EU-U.S. Energy Council at a ministerial level to strengthen co-operation in energy security and the fight against climate change. Considering the seriousness of the energy security problem which we have been discussing with our EU partners, we hope that our contacts and consultation will continue in future, and that we will keep discussing these issues with the EU as well as with the U.S.

Regarding President Obama’s role, I believe we have to get comments from America which observed this summit with increased attention. It would be rather hard for me to comment on it.

Q: What’s the Foreign Ministry’s opinion about the statement of Polish Foreign Minister Sikorski about his willingness to use the U.S. armed forces for protection against an external threat from Russia?
And, how does the Foreign Ministry evaluate Georgian Foreign Minister G. Vashadze's decision to refusal to have a Russian passport?

AN: Indeed, yesterday there had been quite a number of messages about the statements of Foreign Minister Sikorsky that you’re referring to. We’ve certainly noticed them. At the moment we’re verifying this information.

We can only express our deepest bewilderment if it turns out to be true. It looks as if the ‘cold war’ reflexes in their worst manifestation are still alive in Warsaw. Moreover, if the Polish Minister really had said about ‘Russia’s aggression’, they fundamentally contradict declarations from the Polish authorities on their intentions of building a constructive relationship of mutual respect with our country.

As for Georgian Foreign Minister G. Vashadze's decision to refuse to have a Russian passport, it seems difficult to give any evaluations in this connection. I wouldn’t also surmise as to what the current Georgian Minister of Foreign Affairs wanted to achieve with this gesture. I can only state that Mister Vashadze's application to renounce Russian citizenship will be duly considered according to Russian legislation.

Q: What’s Russia’s opinion about the work of the Goldstone Commission that has been investigating Israel’s actions in Gaza Strip in the beginning of this year?

AN: The report you’re referring to, or rather a resolution on this report has just been voted for at the UN General Assembly. You can read the speech of Russia’s representative at the Foreign Ministry website. Our standing was also expressed at the UN Human Rights Council. We’re all aware of the results of the voting. I’ve nothing to add to what’s been said by our representatives.