Date of phone call for top Russian, US diplomats being negotiated

Moscow ready to listen to Washington's proposals on exchange of prisoners, grain exports, says Sergey Lavrov.

Date of phone call for top Russian, US diplomats being negotiated

Russia is currently negotiating the date for a phone call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Russia’s top diplomat told reporters on Friday. 

Speaking to reporters in Uzbekistan's capital Tashkent on the sidelines of a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Sergey Lavrov said that they only learned about Blinken's wish for a phone call while on a visit to Africa.

"We’re currently negotiating the time for such contact; it will take place when I’m in my office. Obviously, this could hardly happen today. But, in the coming days, we will offer our US colleagues a convenient date," Lavrov said.

He also stressed that Moscow is ready to listen to Washington's proposals on exchanging prisoners and grain exports, in the wake of a landmark deal on exports reached last week in Istanbul.

Lavrov said Russia has already requested US specify the topics of discussion, but got no response yet, although Moscow noticed that the US has “already spoken about that in the media."

"If we talk about an exchange of prisoners, the people held in custody in Russia and the US, then we already commented in the name of the Foreign Ministry, that this topic was discussed over a year ago by Presidents (Vladimir) Putin and (Joe) Biden during the meeting in Geneva in June 2021. During that meeting, they agreed to task competent people to work on these issues. And the Foreign Ministry is not among them. However, we will listen to what he (Blinken) has to say," he said.

On Ukrainian grain, Lavrov said it would be interesting to hear how the US side is going to "implement the obligations they took upon themselves" within the context of the UN secretary-general’s initiative.

US sanctions on Russia are preventing the full implementation of grain export contracts, he added.

Lavrov claimed that African countries and Russian partners in the SCO understand that any member of the international community may fall under US sanctions.  

Use of national currencies in mutual trade

Lavrov said that the SCO summit will pass an agreement to expand the use of national currencies in mutual trade.

He underlined that Moscow assumes that "no provocations that could aggravate this situation" will be undertaken on Taiwan.

"Our position of having only one China remains unchanged, the same position in words is periodically confirmed by the United States, but in practice, as you yourself understand, actions do not always match their words," he said, perhaps referring to reports US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi might soon visit Taiwan.

On French President Emmanuel Macron's recent remarks on Russia, Lavrov said: "Macron's statements about expanding Africa's ties with Russia are offensive."

On a visit to Benin on Wednesday, Macron labeled Russia "one of the last imperial colonial powers" for its war on Ukraine.

Hüseyin Demir