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Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden Margot Wallström and I have had a positive conversation. Of course, the relations between our two countries are not at their best, and the reasons are well known, so I will not repeat them. However, today we reaffirmed our shared belief that differences on a number of foreign policy matters should not stand in the way of progress in building mutually beneficial trade, economic and cultural relations, and promoting people-to-people contacts.

We noted that Swedish companies continue to operate in the Russian Federation and have increased investment in the Russian economy. Some 400 Swedish companies are present in Russia. In order to keep up this momentum in the business community, we agreed on the importance of reviving the Intergovernmental Supervisory Committee on Trade and Economic Cooperation that has not met over the past three years.

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, happy New Year and best wishes on all holidays.
The past leap year was not easy. In addition to the troubles that usually befall leap years, some man-made events also took place which were not conducive to strengthening international security.
Russia’s vision of its goals in the international arena is described in detail in the country’s new Foreign Policy Concept that was approved in November by President Vladimir Putin. I am sure that all those who are interested in this sphere of our country’s activity have familiarised themselves with it. International issues were very prominent at President Putin’s news conference (December 23, 2016), as well as in a number of his other statements. I will therefore not lay out our vision of the year’s results. We’ll do better to leave more time for questions and answers.
Mr Minister,
Ladies and gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to thank the leadership of the University of Piraeus for conferring an honorary doctorate upon me. A great deal has been said about me and I have learned a great many new things about myself. Thank you anyway. Your university is known in Russia as one of Greece’s leading centres of higher education that trains first-rate specialists. It is all the more flattering for me that your institution has expanded the ranks of its professors emeritus with your humble servant.
Question: My first question is about Yevgeny Primakov’s decision to turn the plane around in mid-flight [over the Atlantic]. I must admit that I don’t completely agree with the way we highlight this decision as the focal point and possibly even a symbolic element in his career. What was the meaning behind this turn-around? What did it change?
Question: Excellent. Well, thank you very much for joining me on BBC World News. I think I have to start this interview by discussing with you the situation in Aleppo. We’ve seen the ferocious bombardment, your warplanes working alongside those of the Syrian military. Four hundred and more people have been killed, including many children. The UN Special Envoy says that there is evidence that war crimes may have been committed. Why are you doing this?
Mr Ambassador, Mr Kurinnoy, Mr Leonov, friends,
I am pleased to welcome all the guests of this celebration of an important date − the 90th birthday of the leader of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro. First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to the Russian Society of Friendship with Cuba and the Cuban Embassy in Moscow for their assistance in organising this event.
Question: Cuba and Russia have experienced various periods in their relations, including a romantic perception of the Cuban revolution, followed by the Caribbean Crisis that cooled off bilateral relations somewhat. From what we were told, Fidel Castro was offended when his opinion was not sought as Nikita Khrushchev and John F. Kennedy made decisions. Khrushchev tried to patch up relations during Castro’s visit to the Soviet Union in 1963, and then relations began to develop more or less normally. Russia was struggling in 1991, but so was Cuba. What is happening today?
I’d like to thank the Valdai Club for its attention to the urgent issues of world politics.

I think that the authoritative audience that gathered here, just as at the club’s previous events, is highly interested in seeking opportunities to improve Russia-West relations.
Question: Yesterday you met with Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Syria, Staffan de Mistura. US Secretary of State John Kerry met with him shortly before. Active diplomatic work is underway. What can you tell us about the next steps and dates of new meetings on Syria at the Geneva talks and with the involvement of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG)?
Sergey Lavrov: I believe the Geneva round will be resumed this month. At any rate, this is what Staffan de Mistura is planning, and we are actively encouraging him to do so. After the January round was effectively disrupted, the opposition calling itself the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) slammed the door, because its ultimatum on the premature decision on the resignation of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was not carried out.
The Normandy format ministerial meeting has come to an end. Of course, we discussed the implementation of the Minsk Agreements in keeping with the understanding on the sequence of steps that was reached on October 2, 2015, when the four leaders of the Normandy format countries – the presidents of Russia, France and Ukraine and the Federal Chancellor of Germany – met in Paris.
Today we spent much time discussing security issues, namely the implementation of decisions that were adopted on the back of the Minsk Agreements calling for the withdrawal of heavy weaponry and weapons of less than 100mm calibre.