Russian FM honors national independence heroes in Cuba

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov praised national independence heroes in this eastern Cuban city, by paying tribute to them at heritage Santa Ifigenia cemetery.

During a stopover on his trip to Mexico and Venezuela on Wednesday, the Russian foreign minister laid a wreath at the monolith with the ashes of Fidel Castro, in a gesture that was extended to Cuban National Hero Jose Marti and the founding fathers of the Homeland, Carlos Manuel de Cespedes and Mariana Grajales.

Upon signing the book of visitors at the cemetery, Lavrov expressed eternal memory to Jose Marti who will always be an imperishable symbol of resistance and generosity, ideals and principles, which were put into practice by the leader of the Cuban Revolution, along with Raul Castro.

Accompanied by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez and Russian Ambassador to Cuba Andrei Guskov, Lavrov was received by Lazaro Exposito, first secretary of the Communist Party in Santiago de Cuba, and governor Beatriz Johnson.

Subsequently, the two foreign ministers held a fraternal meeting, during which Rodriguez thanked the role of the Russian Federation in maintaining world peace and the tribute offered to the Cuban heroes who rest in that sacred place.

For his part, Lavrov expressed his nation's commitment to continue joint efforts with Cuba on energy issues.

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Lavrov Rejects US Contempt to International Law

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has denounced Tuesday the US for international law by activating Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, which reinforces the economic blockade against Cuba.

'This is an unacceptable attitude. These sanctions against Cuba have been applied for almost 60 years, which at some point make them flexible and then reinforce them,' Lavrov said while he was answering to a question by Cuban news agency Prensa Latina Press.

With the activation of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, the United States once again showed its contempt for international law and its own laws that seek to extend to other countries extraterritorially, the Russian minister said.

I am sure that the United States will become aware of the nature of that position and that it would be more useful to act in a framework of equality in the links with other nations. No one in the world supports such a policy,' said the diplomat.

'We are going to be interested in the issue of how, at the present time, to strengthen the principles of justice and international law. After the events in Venezuela, an unofficial working group was formed in New York to support the principles of the UN Chart, which includes Cuba, Russia and many other countries,' Lavrov said.

The more often we demonstrate our position of principles in all aspects of the international arena, the more successful our joint work will be, said the minister, who will also travel to Suriname and Brazil, where he will take part in the Brics Group ministerial meeting.

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Lavrov: US Sanction Against Russian Company Violates Int'l Law

Pompeo, Abrams and Bolton busy sanctioning, threatening countries and international companies for doing business with Venezuela. 

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is criminalizing Russian companies for doing business with the Venezuelan state, saying they are violated U.S. imposed sanctions by making transactions with Venezuela’s sanctioned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA).

RELATED:  US Presses India to Stop Buying Oil from Venezuela

In a Monday press conference Pompeo said that the assets of Evrofinance Mosnarbank, a Russia-Venezuela states-owned financial organization would be frozen and U.S. citizens would be prohibited from doing business with the joint venture, according to Reuters.

The U.S. State Department said in a statement that Evrofinance was violating a Trump decree because it is a “foreign financial institution that materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of (PdVSA).”

Pompeo also accused the major Russian oil company, Rosneft, of defying U.S. sanctions by buying oil from PDVSA.

According to Sputnik News, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Pompeo's "accusations ... contradict international law." ​​​​​​​

Lavrov said Pompeo's "accusations that Russian oil company Rosneft bought Venezuelan oil in violation of Washington sanctions contradicts international law." ​​​​​​​

Talking to reporters the secretary of state included not only accused Russia but Cuba of trying to undermine democracy in Venezuela.

“This story is not complete without acknowledging the central role Cuba and Russia have played and continue to play in undermining the democratic dreams of the Venezuelan people and their welfare,” Pompeo said.

“Moscow, like Havana, continues to provide political cover to the Maduro regime,” added the U.S. official.

Meanwhile, Trump’s right hand in Venezuela, Elliot Abrams, says he is persuading and urging India to stop buying oil from Venezuela, from who it purchases approximately 366,000 oil barrels per day.

The current U.S. government began a soft coup against Maduro shortly after entering office by placing a slew of sanctions against the Venezuelan government and individuals.

As the list grew and intensified, the U.S. administration sent in Guaido in late January to take over the democratically elected Venezuelan government under Maduro. Most recently, last weekend the White House supported, if not masterminded, the cyber attack on the South American country that caused a nationwide blackout in an effort to create chaos and influence the overthrow of Maduro.

According to the Venezuelan government as of February of this year the country has lost US$38 billion in direct losses from U.S. financial sanctions alone.

RELATED:  Cuba: Electric Sabotage Against Venezuela is Terrorism

For his part, U.S. national security adviser John Bolton announced over Twitter that Venezuela’s National Assembly, still in operation despite being in contempt of the country’s Supreme Court, "decreed the suspension of oil exports to Cuba.” Bolton added, “insurance companies and flag bearers who facilitate these deliveries to Cuba are now on notice," signaling potential sanctions for those doing business with either country.

The Cuban government quickly responded to Bolton’s proclamation saying he has “long-time credentials … (as) a liar.”  

Cuba’s foreign ministry office said in a statement: “The honest and informed people know the bilateral relationship between Cuba and Venezuela is based on mutual respect, true solidarity, fidelism and chavism—independent and sovereign.”​​​​​​​

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Trump 'Did Not Like' Meeting Between Lavrov and Kim Jong Un

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday received a letter from Kim Jong-un, but did not reveal what the letter said other than to say that it was "very nice."

U.S. President Donald Trump "did not like" the meeting that took place between Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un this week.

RELATED: North Korea, United States June 12 'Nuclear Summit' Confirmed

Immediately after saying he "did not like" the meeting, however, Trump said in the White House briefing that he could "love it" if it is "a positive meeting" – further compounding the already clumsy statement. 

"I did not like the Russian meeting yesterday, as what's the purpose of this meeting? But it could be a positive meeting. If it is a positive meeting, I love it. If it is a negative meeting, I am not happy. And it could be very well a positive meeting," Trump said.

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov had held a productive meeting with Kim in Pyongyang earlier this week, when they advanced bilateral relations and reaffirmed commitment to denuclearize. A letter from Vladimir Putin was also given to Kim.

Trump on Friday received a letter from Kim Jong-un, but did not reveal what the letter said other than to observe that it was "very nice."

"That letter was a very nice letter. Oh, would you like to see what was in that letter? Would you like? How much? How much?" the president quipped.

Trump also confirmed he will be meeting with Kim Jong-un in Singapore on June 12, as originally planned. Trump had earlier canceled the meeting, but then executed a u-turn and reinitiated talks with Korean officials.

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West bears responsibility for chaos & terrorist attacks in MidEast and N. Africa – Lavrov

The western states that supported regime changes and financed militants in the Greater Middle East, particularly in Libya, bear responsibility for the chaos ravaging the region, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said during his visit to Cairo.

Lavrov arrived in Cairo on Monday with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu for a joint meeting of the Russian and Egyptian foreign and defense ministers. The fight against terrorism was top of the meeting’s agenda.

Both sides reiterated that for counter-terrorist efforts to have any effect, the fight against this global threat must be carried out jointly.

“The recent attack on the Coptic Christians once again highlights the need for vigilance. We stand united in our attempt to boost anti-terrorist efforts around the globe,” Lavrov said during a joint press conference with his Egyptian counterpart that followed the meeting.

Lavrov was referring to Friday’s terrorist attack in the town of Minya, which claimed the lives of 28 people, including children, and left dozens injured. Islamic State (IS, former ISIS/ISIL) claimed responsibility for the attack, which prompted Egypt to launch what it called responsive strikes against jihadist positions in neighboring Libya.

On Saturday, the Egyptian Defense Ministry said in a statement that Egypt’s armed forces have successfully completed the destruction of all planned targets abroad, including the militants’ concentration areas and training camps.

During the press conference, Lavrov addressed the issue of the ongoing Libyan crisis that poses a security threat for neighboring countries, including Egypt, and once again drew attention to the fact that western involvement in the crisis in the North African country led only to the dismantling of its statehood and eventually turned it into “a backyard for terrorists.”

“Libya was bombed and its government was violently overthrown. It was turned into a backyard for terrorists and criminals. The regime was changed with the help of those [militants], who came from Europe. They were free to leave their countries because everybody knew where they were going and what they were going to do there. And then they were welcomed back,” he said.

“Now, we just see the consequences of these irresponsible policies,” Lavrov told reporters at the press conference, adding that western countries should bear responsibility for the chaos that resulted from their actions.

Earlier, Lavrov also met with the Secretary-General of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul-Gheit. The Secretary-General later told RT’s Maria Finoshina that he “very much” approves of Egypt’s airstrikes against terrorists in Libya.

Shoigu also discussed issues related to combating terrorism and extremism with his Egyptian counterpart. The two sides agreed to continue sharing intelligence and discussed joint exercises and military training.

The Russian and Egyptian foreign and defense ministers also held a joint meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi and discussed regional conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa.

In October 2015, 224 people, mostly Russian citizens, were killed after an improvised explosive device went off on board an Airbus A321 flying from Sharm El Sheikh International Airport to St. Petersburg’s Pulkovo Airport. The Metrojet Flight 9268 crashed as it was flying over the northern Sinai Peninsula. Islamic State’s supporters in Sinai claimed responsibility for the attack. The bombing led to several countries suspending flights to Egypt over concerns of lack of airport security. While Moscow has continued to uphold the ban, the steps undertaken by Cairo to improve security have led to an agreement to resume the flights “in the shortest term,” the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said following Monday’s meeting in Cairo.

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Trump says he had ‘absolute right’ to share data on 'flight safety & terrorism' with Russia

Donald Trump said he wanted to discuss “facts” with Russia, ranging from airline safety to terrorism, during last week’s White House meeting. A Washington Post story has accused him of revealing classified information to Russian officials.

In a tweet, Trump said he had an “absolute right” to discuss these matters with Russia, noting that the conversation was held at an “openly scheduled” White House meeting.

@realDonaldTrump As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining....

The “facts” discussed included terrorism and airline flight safety, according to Trump, who noted that he wants Russia to “greatly step up their fight” against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

@realDonaldTrump terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.

Trump sent out the tweets after a Washington Post story accused him of revealing highly classified information to Russian officials during last week’s Oval Office meeting.

The claims in the Washington Post have been refuted by multiple White House officials, including National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster.

US President Donald Trump and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov © Russian Foreign Ministry

The story – which cited unverifiable sources and unnamed current and former officials – claimed that Trump disclosed “code-word information” related to IS during the May 10 meeting.

The information was allegedly disclosed to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russia’s ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak.

The report claims the information had been obtained from “a US partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement,” and was not authorized to be shared with Russia, the US’ allies, or even within much of the US government.

Trump and his staffers have been repeatedly accused of having ties to Russia, allegations which the White House denies.

Later on Tuesday, the Kremlin dismissed the Washington Post allegations, saying the story included nothing worth discussing.

“This is not a topic for us. It’s nonsense," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “We do not want to have anything to do with this nonsense. This is utter nonsense and it is not something to either confirm or deny,” Peskov said.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova described the report as part of a coordinated effort to put pressure on the Trump administration.

"This is another attempt to exert pressure on the new US administration and make deals related to various political appointments and lobbying. We can’t even say now that the media are biased because they are openly carrying out a political order," the diplomat told Kommersant FM.

Senate investigators are currently looking into the alleged ties, though Trump's critics are calling for an independent investigation into supposed communications between Moscow and the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.

Trump sacked FBI Director James Comey last week, admitting that "this Russia thing" was on his mind when he made the decision. Comey had been leading an investigation into alleged collusion between Trump's advisers and Russian officials when he was abruptly fired.


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No secret message: Lavrov didn’t deliver anything from Putin to Trump, says presidential aide

US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin did not exchange any messages through Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov when he met Trump in Washington DC, the Russian presidential aide Ushakov confirmed.

Yury Ushakov on Thursday addressed journalists, rejecting earlier reports about Lavrov passing on a message.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters after his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., May 10, 2017. © Reuters

During his three-day visit to Washington Lavrov held talks with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and President Donald Trump. Moscow has welcomed the results of the talks, but noted that it is “too early to draw any conclusions” as huge work is still ahead, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday.

“Of course, the fact that the conversation is being held is rather positive. The presidents have already talked three times by phone and further to this dialogue at the highest level, Mr. Tillerson was hosted in Moscow and Lavrov was hosted in Washington. That is why these facts are certainty positive,” Peskov said. He added that there should be “cautious optimism” speaking about any thaw in the relations between the two countries.

Speaking about the possibility of Putin and Trump meeting face to face, the Kremlin spokesperson noted that this may happen during the G20 summit, which will take place in Hamburg in July.

Lavrov’s visit is one of the highest-level contacts between the Russian and the US governments since Trump took office in January. The sides agreed to continue cooperation to solve international problems, including the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine, despite any difficulties in bilateral relations.

READ MORE: Lavrov trolls NBC before Trump meeting as US media, Democrats lose it over Russia

Prior to the meeting with Trump, Lavrov held talks with Tillerson, in which the two diplomats discussed progress in the fulfillment of the Minsk peace agreements and touched upon crisis in Syria.

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Lavrov: Russia waiting for US to provide ‘details’ on proposed safe zones in Syria

Moscow is waiting for Washington to lay out the details of how it intends to establish safe zones in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, adding that the proposal must also be agreed upon by the Syrian government.

Lavrov said the issue was raised last week during his conversation with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Bonn, Germany.

© Lucas Jackson

“The US side informed us that this concept (safe zones) is currently in development,” the top diplomat said, adding that Moscow “will wait for further details” from Washington.

The minister said that Russia is ready to consider the proposal, as well as any others the US may have on cooperation in Syria, expressing hope that Washington is now really interested in working with Moscow to settle the conflict.

“Such initiatives should take into account the real situation on the ground in Syria, where many players are working with their ground forces and in Syrian airspace,” he stressed.

“Of course, we will stress that any initiatives relating to Syrian territory need to be agreed upon by the Syrian government. Otherwise, these and other steps will probably not be so easy to implement,” Lavrov added.

US President Donald Trump, who announced in late January that he “would absolutely do safe zones in Syria,” reiterated his plan on Sunday, saying it would be good to create places for civilians in war-torn countries “so they can stay there and live safely” instead of bringing them to the US.

READ MORE: Trump call for 'safe zones' in Syria worrying start for new White House

As for funding the project, Trump said “we’re going to have the Gulf States pay for those safe zones. They’ve got nothing, but money.”

Lavrov said that he first met America’s new secretary of state in Bonn on February 16, when the two diplomats discussed bilateral relations as well as the situation in Syria, Afghanistan, and Ukraine. Afterwards, both parties described the talks as “productive,” stressing that they were eager to find ways to mend Russia-US relations.

READ MORE: 'Productive' 1st meeting: Lavrov & Tillerson discuss Syria & Ukraine, but not sanctions

However, the sensitive issue of the sanctions that the Obama administration imposed on Moscow was not raised in Bonn.

  • Published in World
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