LIVE: Pompeo and Lavrov meet in Sochi
The heads of the diplomatic departments of the two countries did not reach specific agreements
On Tuesday afternoon, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. Before that, he told representatives of the Russian authorities that US President Donald Trump is “aimed at improving” relations between the two states..
As a result of the conversation, both ministers held a press conference, which took place before their scheduled meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“I am here today because President Trump is committed to improving this relationship,” Secretary of State Pompeo said in his opening address. “As you said, we have disagreements. Each of our states will protect its own interests and the interests of its people. But we are not opponents in all matters, and I hope that we will find areas where our interests meet, and begin to build really strong relations, at least in these specific areas. “.
Sergei Lavrov, in turn, explained that the presidents of the United States and Russia, following a telephone conversation between them on May 3, “instructed us to intensify our dialogue.” Lavrov noted that an exchange of views was held on the most pressing international and regional problems, and added that the conversation turned out to be “frank and useful”, although “our relations are far from the best times.”.
In part, the Russian Foreign Minister explained this by the fact that “the anti-Russian sanctions policy inherited from its predecessors, which the current US leadership has inherited from its predecessors, plays an important role in this,” and said that he agreed with Mike Pompeo “to take practical steps to rectify this situation.”.
One of the first international topics discussed by the press conference participants was the resolution of the situation in Venezuela..
Touching upon this issue, the Russian Foreign Minister said that “Russia advocates that it is the people of this country who determine their future, and in this regard it is extremely important that all responsible patriotic and political forces of this country begin a dialogue with each other … n. “Mechanism of Montevideo” “.
“On the issue of Venezuela, we do not agree with each other,” said Mike Pompeo. “I call on my Russian colleagues to support the Venezuelan people in their attempts to restore democracy in the country. The United States and more than fifty other nations believe it is time for Nicolas Maduro to leave. It has brought nothing but hardship and suffering to the Venezuelan people, and we hope that Russian support for Maduro will end. But despite our differences, we both agreed that there is a humanitarian and political crisis [in Venezuela], and I want to believe that we can discuss ways to resolve it, ”concluded the US Secretary of State.
Another important topic of discussion was the Iranian crisis. “As for our policy towards the Islamic Republic of Iran,” explained Mike Pompeo, “it has remained consistent throughout the entire period of the Trump administration. The decision to withdraw from the JCPOA treaty just over a year ago clearly showed what our goals are: we are waiting for Iran to start behaving like a normal country. That’s all we ask for. To achieve this, we are putting pressure on the leaders of the Islamic Republic “.
“We are not looking for a war with Iran,” the US Secretary of State emphasized. “We want the Iranian regime to end its campaign of political assassinations abroad, as well as to support the Hezbollah group, which threatens the interests of the entire Middle East, and the Houthi rebels in Yemen, who are shelling missiles in the territory where Russians and Americans travel, who can easily become victims of these strikes. We have stated all this in detail before, and our position has not changed. ” .
“Regarding the troop redeployment that you mentioned,” Pompeo continued, “we leave that to the discretion of the Department of Defense. But we clearly state to the Iranians: if they are targeted by American interests, we will certainly respond in an appropriate manner. “.
“As for the situation around Iran and the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan (which in America is called JCPOA – ed.), I hope that reason will prevail,” Sergei Lavrov responded to the words of the US Secretary of State. – Rumors about the sending of a 120,000-strong United States army to the region have no basis, because the region is already overstrained by various conflict situations. And when I say that we hope to find a political solution to the situation around Iran, we will really help to ensure that it does not fall into a military scenario. But how to do it? – this is already the task of diplomats, and I felt that the American side is also determined to search for a political solution, ”summed up the Russian Foreign Minister.
Further, journalists asked about the prospects for a possible imminent meeting of the two presidents – Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. In response to it, Sergei Lavrov said the following: “Naturally, we have heard President Trump’s statements that he would like to meet with President Putin, including within the framework of their participation in the G20 Osaka Summit. If such a proposal is specially made, we will, of course, respond positively to it, and today we talked about it with Mike Pompeo “.
Experts: first assessments
Head of the Department of Social and Political Sciences, Moscow School of Economics, Moscow State University, Professor Victor Kuvaldin in a commentary for the Russian service of the Voice of America, he noted that after such meetings, the general public always knows only the “tip of the iceberg”. However, as it seems to him, if not a window, then a kind of “window” of opportunities after Pompeo’s visit may have opened a little..
“And that’s pretty easy to explain,” he added. Trump has a strong idea that the real problem for the United States is not Russia, but China. And he has his own strategy for solving this problem in this regard. This is, first of all, the economic containment of China, and the main thing here is to in no way allow Beijing to gain access to the most critical technologies that determine the economy of tomorrow. Therefore, the trade war (between the US and China) is just ripples on this water. “.
In addition, the United States in the foreign arena has developed very tense on several lines at once, the political scientist clarified: “The crisis around Iran is intensifying. In Venezuela, Washington faced stronger resistance than expected. In relations with North Korea, a breakthrough has also not been achieved with regard to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. All this, apparently, forced some part of Trump’s entourage and the president himself to decide that now is a convenient moment to try to somewhat change at least the tone of attitude towards Russia. The White House needs a positive “.
It seems to Viktor Kuvaldin that these factors were behind Pompeo’s visit. There was no breakthrough, but some reason for very cautious optimism did appear, he summed up.
We will remind, on the eve of President Donald Trump said that he was ready to meet with Putin and President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping at a meeting of the G20 leaders. At a joint press conference of Mike Pompeo and Sergei Lavrov in Moscow following their talks, the head of the Russian diplomatic service, answering a journalist’s question, said that if Moscow receives an official proposal to meet the two presidents on the sidelines of the summit in Japan, it will treat it positively.
Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) Andrey Kortunov in this regard, he suggested that by the time the G20 summit is held, the release of Ukrainian sailors held in Russian prisons may take place, and thus one of the obstacles to the meeting between Putin and Trump in Osaka will disappear. At the same time, the expert believes, the main question is whether it will be possible to achieve in the remaining time, which is not so much, any specific shifts in the positions of Moscow and Washington on other key issues.
“Because the summit in Japan must be successful and allow Trump to tweet his next outstanding victory,” he said. – Otherwise, it is inappropriate to invest in it politically, given the inevitable costs of such a meeting. Therefore, the main thing now is whether both sides will have time and will want to launch some processes that could bear fruit in just a month ”.
Moreover, these should be non-toxic spheres, where compromises are impossible and are unlikely to be foreseen in the foreseeable future, said Andrei Kortunov: “This could be nuclear arms control, problems of strategic stability, or something else. But it must be something that does not generate a new flurry of criticism against Trump from his political opposition. Then it makes sense to meet in Osaka and even, perhaps, sign some kind of declaration there. “.
According to the political scientist, this will allow Trump to talk about success, or at least some progress..