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‘Broken phone’ fixed, Lavrov and Kerry to meet next week

Published time: February 21, 2013 09:43
Edited time: February 21, 2013 18:20
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. (AFP Photo / Alex Wong)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. (AFP Photo / Alex Wong)

Russian Human Rights Commissioner Konstantin Dolgov confirmed on Thursday that Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov would meet with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Berlin, Germany on Feb. 26.

The meeting comes after it was reported by the Western media that Kerry failed to reach Lavrov via telephone on two separate occasions last week, causing analysts to speculate on the condition of the Russia-US relationship.  

However, the Russian Foreign Ministry rejected the claim that two attempts were made to reach Lavrov, saying that Kerry had made just one attempt, but, according to Foreign Minister spokesperson Alexander Lukashenko, “the conversation could not be held” because Lavrov was touring African countries at the time.

The outspoken leader of the Russian LibDem Party (LPDR), Vladimir Zhirinovsky joked about Kerry’s failure to reach Lavrov, suggesting that the US Secretary of State was desperately attempting to reach the Russian diplomat to warn of a new US weapon test that had gone awry and was heading for Russian territory.

Zhirinovsky was referring to last week’s spectacular meteorite explosion that lit up the skies over the Russian town of Chelyabinsk.

It will be Kerry’s first official trip abroad after taking over from Hillary Clinton as the new US Secretary of State, and there will be much to discuss between the two veteran statesmen.

Dolgov, speaking at a meeting of the State Duma committee on the family announced that Lavrov told informed him that the question of the rights of Russian children adopted by American families would be one of the main talking points.

The comment came just hours after it was reported that another adoptive Russian child died in the United States.
"I spoke with Sergey Lavrov just before coming here, and he asked me to stress that this issue, primarily the death of Maxim Kuzmin, will be among the key issues on the agenda of his negotiations with Kerry scheduled for next week," Dolgov said.

The Human Rights Commissioner of the Foreign Ministry said Russia was not informed promptly enough about Kuzmin's death.

Meanwhile, US officials have declared their willingness to maintain cooperation with Russia, particularly the Russian embassy in Washington, to determine the details of the tragedy, he said.

"There have been certain assurances from the U.S. that they are keeping this situation under special control and will be doing all they can at the State Department to provide us with all the necessary information and do whatever they can so that this case be investigated properly," Dolgov said.

Kuzmin was adopted by a US family from the same orphanage as Dmitry Yakovlev, the child who died from heatstroke in 2008 after being left unattended inside of a car by his American parents. Yakovlev's name has been given to a Russian law that prohibits the adoption of Russian children by US citizens, which took effect at the end of 2012.

Meanwhile, other pressing international issues will certainly be discussed by Lavrov and Kerry, including the two-year conflict in Syria, where a militant opposition is trying to force out President Assad.

Moscow, adhering to the conditions laid out in the Geneva Communiqué, want both sides to honor a ceasefire and enter negotiations. Washington, however, has taken a decidedly pro-rebel position and has repeatedly issued calls for Assad to step down.

At the same time, the question over how to deal with North Korea, which conducted an underground test of a nuclear device on February 12, will also rank high on the agenda.

Robert Bridge, RT

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