Lavrov, Kerry to hold talks in Sochi on May 12 - Russian Foreign Ministry

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the United States Secretary of State John Kerry, who will be in Russia on a working visit, will hold talks in Sochi on Tuesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on its website.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the United States Secretary of State John Kerry, who will be in Russia on a working visit, will hold talks in Sochi on Tuesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on its website.

"We hope the visit by State Secretary Kerry will serve the cause of normalizing the bilateral relationship that largely defines global stability," the statement said.

"In our dialogue with the U.S. we have consistently stressed that we are open to cooperation based on equality, non-interference in domestic affairs and due respect for Russian interests, with full discontinuation of attempts to pressurize us," the ministry said.

At the talks the pair is expected to exchange their views on current issues concerning the bilateral relationship and the pressing international problems.

"Currently, the Russian-U.S. relationship is going through a difficult period because of Washington's deliberate unfriendly actions. Having unjustifiably blamed Russia for the Ukrainian crisis, which was largely provoked by the U.S. itself, in 2014 the Barack Obama administration went down the path of scaling down the bilateral relations, proclaimed a course towards our country's 'isolation' on the global stage and demanded support for its confrontational steps from the countries which traditionally follow Washington in its wake," the ministry said.

The Whitehouse's unilateral decision froze the joint presidential commission that consisted of 21 working groups. Washington introduced travel sanctions and asset freezes against Russian individuals, companies, banks and organization in breach of international law.

The Russian borders are "gradually approached by NATO's military infrastructure, including the build-up of armed forces in Eastern Europe, the creation in this region of important elements of the U.S. national missile defense system and regular appearances by U.S. warships in the Black Sea," the ministry said.

"We have to respond to sanctions and take steps to provide our security," the ministry said.

"Nevertheless, we continue our joint work with the U.S. in areas of mutual interest and international security. In particular, in 2014 we successfully implemented a bilateral agreement, sealed by UN SC (United Nations Security Council) resolution, about the removal of all chemical weapon components from Syria. We closely cooperate as part of the negotiations to settle the situation around the Iranian nuclear program, as a result of which we managed to come close to producing a comprehensive agreement based on Russia-proposed principles of gradual progression and reciprocity," the ministry recalled.

"Even under the Whitehouse pressing, American business is in no hurry to leave our market and has shown a keen interest in continuing the cooperation," the ministry said.

The companies that would like to retain their positions in Russia include Boeing, Ford, John Dir, Alcoa, Coca Cola, PepsiCo, Mars, ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and others, which made significant investments in Russia. Despite the sanctions, the bilateral trade in 2014 rose by 5.6% on the same period in 2013, having reached $29.2 billion.

"We persistently point to the need to resolve the bilateral problems that were created by Washington even before the Ukrainian events. We pay particular attention to protection of interests of the Russian adopted children who were subject to cruel treatment by their adoptive U.S. parents," the ministry said.

Moscow is seriously concerned by the practice of U.S. secret services "hunting" Russian citizens in third countries. "We insist on the release of Roman Seleznyov, abducted by them (the U.S) from the Maldives in 2014, as well as Viktor But and Konstantin Yaroshenko, who were moved to the U.S. forcefully and illegal and sentenced to long prison terms," the ministry said.

Despite the current difficulties, successful implementation of a number of Russian-U.S. agreements continues. Among these is the 2010 agreement on measures to further reduce and restrict strategic offensive weapons, which acts as a stabilizing factor for the bilateral relationship and one of the key elements in the international-security system, the Russian Foreign Ministry recalled.

Another step forward was the 2011 agreement to simplify visa formalities, which has noticeably broadened the practice of issuing multiple-entry visas. For our part, we invariably emphasize the importance of close contacts among people, including tourism, cultural, sports and scientific exchanges for boosting mutual confidence. It is important to protect such communication from fluctuations of the U.S. political conjuncture and to create better conditions for it, not least by cancelling visa requirements for short-term travel.

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