Remarks With Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Before Their Meeting

Remarks
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Moscow, Russia
December 15, 2015


SECRETARY KERRY: Sergey, thank you very much for arranging this meeting and thank you for your welcome here in Moscow. I agree completely with the agenda you’ve set out. I think it’s the agenda we’ve discussed previously. And I think today is an important day for us to try to make further progress on a number of these issues. In the meeting in New York between our presidents, both President Putin and President Obama made it very clear that they wanted to try to find a way forward with Syria and they also wanted to find a way to resolve Ukraine. They specifically said to you and me at that meeting that we needed to meet to see how we could find a way to make progress and follow up on their instructions.

What is important to note is that even when there have been differences between us, we have been able to work effectively on specific issues, and Russia made a significant contribution to the dialogue on the Iran nuclear agreement, and now in both of the Vienna discussions, Russia has been a significant contributor to the progress that we’ve been able to make. More than a contributor, you personally have really been a co-convener and I thank you for the efforts you’ve made to lead us up now hopefully to getting to New York and building on the progress that’s been made.

On ISIL or Daesh, Russia and the United States agree that this is a threat to everybody, to every country, that there’s no negotiation. These are the worst of terrorists. They’ve attacked culture and history and all decency and they leave no choice but for civilized nations to stand together and to fight and push back and destroy them. And as President Obama said in New York, nothing would please us more than to resolve the differences of Ukraine and be able to move forward in the economic front and on other areas of important cooperation.

So again, we all have extremely busy schedules. Last night I was in Paris meeting with many of our counterparts on the issue of Syria, and it was constructive. We had good ideas about how we can coordinate, and so I look forward this morning to our meeting and to make real progress. I think the world benefits when powerful nations with a long history (inaudible) have the ability to be able to find common ground, and today I hope we can find some common ground.