Remarks With Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Before Their Meeting

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Moscow, Russia
July 15, 2016

FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: (Via interpretation) Dear Secretary of State, dear colleagues, I’d like to welcome you (inaudible). We’ll continue the dialogue that was launched yesterday in the meeting with the president of the Russian Federation. I believe that it was fruitful. I believe that with regard to Syria and the region of the Middle East that dialogue contributed to prioritizing the need to step up our joint efforts in the settlement of the crisis of our fight against terrorism. And I believe that the dialogue is becoming even more urgent and relevant (inaudible) the barbaric and horrible terrorist attack that took place yesterday in Nice. If I might, I’d like to honor the memory of the victims (inaudible) take a moment of silence.

Anyway, we still need to get started. We’re going to discuss plans on Syria, Ukraine, on the settlement of the Middle East process conflict, and Nagorno-Karabakh, and (inaudible) trip to Israel (inaudible) focus on our (inaudible) issues that you raised yesterday.


SECRETARY KERRY: Well, Sergey, thank you very much. Thank you for a very productive session last night. I wish – I hope you will extend my appreciation to President Putin. We were there until 1 o’clock in the morning, and I know he had to get on an airplane and fly somewhere, so we’re appreciative. And the conversation last night was extremely frank and very serious – we’re very appreciative of that.

We certainly join with you in expressing our absolute abhorrence for the incredible carnage that took place in Nice yesterday. The problem is that you and I and other foreign ministers and leaders of countries are now doing this almost on a weekly basis. And nowhere is there a greater hotbed or incubator for these terrorists than in Syria. And I think people all over the world are looking to us and waiting for us to find a faster and more tangible way of them feeling that everything that is possible is being done to end this terrorist scourge and to unite the world in the most comprehensive efforts possible to fight back against their nihilistic and depraved approach to life and death.

And you and I and our teams are in the enviable position of actually being able to do something about it. So I look forward to building on the conversations that we had last night, on the conversations we’ve had in previous months. And as you said, I think it’s important for the world to trust, to know that we are not just talking about Syria; we are talking about other hot spots, ranging from the Middle East process outside Israel, to Libya, to Yemen, and Nagorno-Karabakh. And I think on each of these we’ve been able to lay down some good approaches and I hope we can build on those today also.

We also talked, obviously, about Ukraine. And I appreciated President Putin’s thoughts. I thought that too was constructive, and I think we have some homework to do, but there is a possibility out of that conversation of actually making some further progress. And I think that would be extremely helpful for all of us.

We still have some gaps, and my hope is that in the course of this conversation and work right now we can close those gaps and find a positive way forward.

Finally, let me just say – last comment – Russia and the United States have the ability uniquely here to be able to make a difference. And in making that difference we can also have an effect on the bilateral relationship in ways that I think both you and I would like to see some progress. So this is an important conversation, and I thank you very, very much for taking out the time that you have and for (inaudible) constructive meeting. Thank you.