These are the remarks made by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov after their meeting at Le Grand Hotel, Paris, France, Monday, May 27. It’s basically about how they’re trying hard to convene a conference with both sides in the Syrian civil war.
Aren’t we lucky we’re not in this one?
SECRETARY KERRY: I want to thank Sergey Lavrov for meeting quickly, as we have here, before we both go to meet with Laurent Fabius, the Foreign Minister of France, momentarily. And we’re grateful for Foreign Minister Fabius’s hospitality here. We’ve been waiting for him to arrive back from Brussels where he was at an evening meeting, so we took advantage and have been discussing the question of Syria.
Let me just say – I think Sergey would agree with me that both of us – Russia, the United States – are deeply committed and remain committed to trying to implement the Geneva 1 principles, which require a transitional government by mutual consent that has full executive authority in order to allow the people of Syria to decide the future of Syria. We are committed to this. We both want to make this conference happen, if possible, together with many other countries that have joined up. And today we talked through a number of issues, sort of when the conference might take place, and obviously that depends on the participants and the decisions that need to be made together with our friends and allies and the United Nations.
We talked about the participants, and that is an ongoing conversation, and it will continue tonight with Foreign Minister Fabius. We also talked about the humanitarian situation, and both of us expressed our mutual concerns about any potential use of chemical weapons and the need to really get the evidence and ascertain what has happened in that regard. Both Russia and the United States, if it were being used, object to that very, very strongly.
But it is our hope that we will come out of here with greater clarity about some of the issues that need to be worked on in the days ahead. We agreed that representatives of both of our governments, from the foreign ministry in Russia and the State Department in the United States, will meet as soon as possible in order to work through a number of these issues regarding how this conference could best be prepared for the possibility of success, not failure. And that’s our goal, and that’s what brought us here to Paris.
FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: Thank you. I would like to express my gratitude to John Kerry for suggesting that we meet on this occasion, because the situation is not getting better on the ground and we all want to do everything in our efforts to stop the bloodshed and to reduce the sufferings of the Syrian people. And therefore we took stock today of where we are with the implementation of the Russian-American initiative which was launched when John visited Moscow on the 7th of May.
And as John said, we concentrated on the need to determine the participants of the conference, first of all from the Syrian sides – the government and opposition groups, as we said in Moscow – and secondly, the participants from outside circle. The Geneva 1 participants, I think, have been accepted as the invitees, and we believe that this circle could be expanded to involve all key outside players who have influence on the situation on the ground. And we discussed how we can proceed with the kind of division of labor which (inaudible) Moscow to persuade various Syrian parties and the foreign countries to cooperate with us in the efforts to make this conference convene.
It’s not an easy task. It’s a very tall order, but I hope that when the United States and Russian Federation take this kind of initiative, the chances for success are bigger, and we will do everything in our power to use those chances and to make them realize.