Alexander Yakovenko, the Spokesman of Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Answers Russian Media Questions Regarding Upcoming Meeting in Ankara Between Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice


Question: As reported, a meeting will take place in Ankara on February 5 between Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. What is the aim of this meeting?

Answer: The meeting is being held as part of the preparations for the upcoming Russian-American summit in Bratislava on February 24. This is the first contact at the level of the heads of the foreign affairs agencies of our countries since the confirmation of Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State.

Question: What questions will priority attention be devoted to?

Answer: The topic of the talks encompasses the content aspects of the summit meeting and is oriented towards substantively working through the agenda items being submitted for consideration by the Russian and US presidents. It is borne in mind to hold a thorough forward-looking discussion on key issues of bilateral interaction. The ministers also will discuss pressing international problems.

Question: What could be said about the character of Russian-American bilateral relations?

Answer: At the bilateral meeting in Santiago on November 20, 2004, held during the APEC summit after the re-election of George W. Bush for a second term, the presidents affirmed their mutual desire not only to preserve continuity and momentum in our relations, but also to move further, on the basis that has been laid by common efforts. The Bratislava summit is called upon to determine the tonality of multipronged Russian-American cooperation for the next four years and to impart an additional impetus to the accomplishment of the practical tasks set by the presidents of strengthening and expanding its partner basis.

Question: What position do Russia and the United States hold in the struggle against new challenges and threats?

Answer: The ministers will discuss in detail the problems in antiterrorist cooperation in the context of the building-up of joint actions in the struggle against new challenges and threats. We appreciate the strong line of the US leadership, ready to stand with us in our common war on terror, as US President Bush put it, shoulder to shoulder. Another important block of problems which is being prepared towards Bratislava is the state of, and prospects for our cooperation in the field of disarmament and the nonproliferation of nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruction..

Question: What tasks do Moscow and Washington set themselves in the area of economic cooperation?

Answer: The priority agenda item of the summit is bilateral economic relations. There is on both sides an understanding of the need to make a spurt in our cooperation in this area, to achieve a real expansion of business contacts in the area of energy and in high technology fields and to ensure stable investment growth. In the previous years some good developments came about in the Russian-US energy dialogue, and the task now is to make up our minds as to which mutually beneficial projects should be given push at the highest level.

The range of questions to be discussed on the economic track also includes the accession of Russia to the WTO with regard to the negotiating process under way with the US. We intend to affirm our disposition towards productive work and a search for solutions which would help complete the process of our entry into the Organization on terms which do not infringe on our lawful interests.

Question: How could the importance of the upcoming meeting be summed up?

Answer: On the whole the Lavrov-Rice meeting will be a key one in a series of saturated bilateral contacts at various levels, meant to generalize the ideas and suggestions of the sides towards Bratislava and to ensure successful and productive talks of the Russian and US presidents.

February 4, 2005