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RT sits down with FM Lavrov to review global challenges of 2017 (WATCH LIVE)

Russian top diplomat, Sergey Lavrov, has granted RT an exclusive interview

(RT) – 25 December 2017

  • 09:13 GMT

    The interview ends, approximately one hour after it started.

  • 09:13 GMT

    As for the reported acoustic attacks on embassy staff, which were used to justify the change of US policy towards Cuba, they apparently have no basis. Otherwise Washington’s reaction would have been harsher, Lavrov suggested.

  • 09:12 GMT

    Lavrov: Russia welcomed the effort to reestablish ties with Cuba under Barack Obama and saw the reopening of the US embassy in Havana as a positive gesture. The fact that the US trade blockade of Cuba, regularly condemned by the majority of UN Assembly members, remains in place is regrettable. The change of US approach in Cuba is yet another example of why some nations do not trust Washington when it offers to scrap its sanctions in exchange for some concessions.

  • 09:08 GMT

    RT: Cuba again and the shift in US policy towards it.

  • 09:08 GMT

    Latin America in general has strong potential for foreign investment and Russia may join forces with China and other BRICS nations for large infrastructure projects in that region, Lavrov said.

  • 09:07 GMT

    Lavrov: Russia is not directly affected by migration in that part of the world and sticks to the principles of humanism, on which Russia bases its attitude to migration in general. He added the US was regrettably reluctant to negotiate universal rules for regulating migration. Latin America did not suffer such an enormous migration crisis as Europe did because it didn’t endure problems like the destruction of Libya, which was a major factor in opening the doors for migrants.

  • 09:04 GMT

    RT: Questions about migration flows in Latin America and Trump’s crackdown on migrants.

  • 09:03 GMT

    Cuba is Russia’s traditional partner, and Moscow is full of optimism about Cuba’s future after the planned elections there.

  • 09:02 GMT

    Mexico, which is among several Latin American nations set to hold elections in 2018, is a good partner for Russia. Moscow is pleased not to be accused of hacking elections in that country, Lavrov joked.

  • 09:02 GMT

    Lavrov: Changes of government in Latin American countries do not usually affect their relations with Russia. But Moscow is concerned about some developments, like the meddling in Venezuela. Russia asks foreign players to stop disrupting the situation there and let Venezuelans sort out their differences.

  • 09:00 GMT

    RT Spanish: How does Russia see the situations in Venezuela and Cuba?

  • 08:59 GMT

    Lavrov: the killing of Saleh may make the Houthis a more radical force in Yemen. But whatever happens in Yemen, only peace talks have a chance of ending violence in the country. International mediators must be neutral and not side with either party to the conflict to help this process. And again, a deescalation of hostility between Iran and the Arab League would help in Yemen too. They must talk and respect each other’s concerns.

    Yemenis inspect damage at the site of a reported Saudi-led coalition air strike, in the northwestern Huthi-held city of Saada on December 20, 2017 © AFP
  • 08:56 GMT

    RT: What will happen in Yemen now following the assassination of ex-president Saleh?

  • 08:56 GMT

    Lavrov: Russia and Egypt have ties on many levels, from nuclear cooperation to military trade. Russia supports Egypt in its fight against extremist forces. Russia sells its weapons to Egypt, shares its experience and otherwise helps. But at the moment Russia has no intention of flying combat missions over Egypt or from bases in Egypt, despite the new legal framework.

  • 08:54 GMT

    RT: Russia and Egypt have signed an agreement on military cooperation. Will Russia be involved in counterterrorism operations in Egypt now?

  • 08:53 GMT

    Lavrov praises the US-led coalition for the work they have done in fighting the terrorists in Syria, but remarked that it took some encouragement. Under the Obama administration the US military in Syria were reluctant to actually target jihadists groups, even ISIS on some occasions. But after Russia got involved in Syria and the change of the US administration, the coalition effort was invigorated, he said.

  • 08:51 GMT

    Russia seeks an inclusive peace settlement in Syria and was not happy that the Geneva talks mostly involved refugees from Syria, who had lived outside the country for many years. Russia pushed for greater representation in Geneva of the leaders of the people actually living in Syria now. This will invigorate the negotiation, Moscow hopes, and allow reform of the Syrian political system in a way that would stand the test of time.

  • 08:48 GMT

    The Syrian peace process is hampered by some opposition groups involved in the Geneva talks, which are seeking to undermine the process by demanding the resignation of President Assad. The group was backed by Saudi Arabia and their demand, which violated their own promises not to push for it, was a big embarrassment for Riyadh, Lavrov said.

  • 08:46 GMT

    Russia believes that deescalating violence in the greater Middle East is possible if the enmity between Saudi Arabia and Iran is curbed, the minister added. As for the US, Moscow is angry that Washington fails to stick to its own promises. Rex Tillerson used to say that the only US interest in Syria was to defeat ISIS, but now they want to stay to oversee a political transition, possibly with the condition of ousting President Bashar Assad. This is the same approach that Russia endured with NATO enlargement: The initial promise was that it would not happen, as was recently confirmed by archive documents, but the result was the opposite, he said.

  • 08:41 GMT

    The US is working on ways to shield some jihadist forces from being quashed, Lavrov added. Some American experts want a policy, that would support extremist forces operating in so-called dictator states, on a presumption that their extremism is caused by the policies of such governments. The idea is that with a government declared dictatorial by the US gone the extremism would no longer exists.

  • 08:38 GMT

    Lavrov: The people actually fighting on the ground are mostly willing to end hostilities, negotiate with the government and return to peaceful life. The de-escalation zones project backed by Russia, Turkey and Iran is based to a great degree on this choice of the rebel forces. There are remaining Islamist forces, including the Al-Nusra Front which the US-led coalition is unwilling to fight against, which are against peace. Apparently the US has plans for those terrorists, perceiving them as a force that could topple the Syrian government.

  • 08:36 GMT

    RT: Are we closer to finally ending the war in Syria?

  • 08:35 GMT

    Washington, Russia believes, wants to strangle North Korea until it submits. Moscow will not back such an approach and will continue to seek a way to integrate North Korea into the world community, not isolate it.

  • 08:34 GMT

    The US position on the Iranian nuclear deal does not help with North Korea, Lavrov added. By undermining the Iranian deal Washington sending a signal to Pyongyang: whatever denuclearization deal you may strike with us may be scrapped by another administration.

  • 08:33 GMT

    Lavrov: no sane person would push the situation into an actual war. But even when nobody wants a war, an arms race always results in a risk of human error leading to an unwanted escalation.

    The minister adds he feels obliged to describe how the US actually makes its diplomacy over the Korean crisis. In September, they signaled to Moscow that they would not stage military exercises and that Pyongyang should not be worried until at least next spring. But then the US launched an “emergency exercise,” with North Korea ignored. And yet another exercise was held later, one of unprecedented scale which did make Pyongyang react.

    FILE PHOTO: A general view shows a drill by North Korean Korean People’s Army (KPA) artillery units © KCNA / Reuters

    Lavrov says the Americans are trying to cover up their actions with legalities, saying they break no rules when conducting military exercises in the region. But diplomacy is not an area where such tricks work, he added. He reiterated Russia’s call, which China also supports, to freeze all exercises by the US and its allies and all new tests by North Korea to deescalate the tension.

  • 08:26 GMT

Q. North Korea. How great is the probability of open military conflict on the peninsula and what does the US want to achieve by its belligerent rhetoric?

  • 08:26 GMT

    Lavrov says rules should not be applied selectively as was the case with RT’s forced registration as a foreign agent in the US. Singling out this channel was a breach of the fair play principle as is the persecution of RT in France and the UK, he said. The minister said Moscow’s retaliatory move to allow foreign media to be designated foreign agents in Russia is based on a set of criteria, not arbitrary decisions. But refraining from restricting the media would be much better for all countries.

  • 08:23 GMT

    RT asks about the pressure it faces in America over the alleged Russian collusion during the 2016 election.

  • 08:22 GMT

    Russia’s approach to integration projects is based on inclusiveness and flexibility. It is like allowing people to lay down paths on a fresh lawn before paving those paths as they see fit.

  • 08:20 GMT

    As for a new set of rules, they will grow organically as the world transforms, Lavrov believes. The process should be allowed to evolve in a flexible way, not with some strict parameters embedded. Such an approach tanked the TTP trade agreement, which the Obama administration pushed for and which was scrapped by Trump.

  • 08:18 GMT

    A global financial reform that would account for new centers of economic growth and the dwindling role of the dollar is what drives the transition, Lavrov says. He says the G20 format is likely to be the driving force of the reform, with roughly half of the group sharing Russia’s goal of decentralizing world finances.

  • 08:16 GMT

    Lavrov gives credit to his legendary predecessor Evgeny Primakov for envisioning a multipolar world. He was the one who invigorated Russia’s ties with India and China, from which what is now known as BRICS came to be.

    Yevgeny Primakov © Aleksey Nikolskyi / Sputnik
  • 08:14 GMT

    Question. The vision of a multipolar world seems to be shaping now, but still lacks a framework of rules. What will Russia’s place be in it?

  • 08:13 GMT

    The interview starts. Three RT correspondents are taking part in the interview – Daniel Hawkins from RT English, Spanish correspondent Aliana Nieves and Sargon Hadaya from RT Arabic.

  • 08:12 GMT

    RT has a lot of issues to ask Sergey Lavrov about, with Russia’s ongoing feud with the US arguably the most important. A shy hope for reengagement under the Trump administration has been buried under the “Russiagate” narrative in America.

  • 08:05 GMT

    It is 11:00 a.m. in Moscow. Minister Lavrov is about to join RT for an interview.

  • 07:02 GMT

    Lavrov is one of the longest-serving members of the Russian cabinet with decades of experience under his belt. Considering the many crises the Russian diplomatic corps has faced, his job in 2017 was quite difficult.

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