Question: The United States has been expanding its military cooperation with a number of countries, for example, Ecuador. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has recently visited this country. There were statements on intentions to increase the number of US troops near the Islamic Republic of Iran. What do you think about these steps?
Sergey Lavrov: Ramping up military presence has never facilitated steady development in any region. There is nothing to add to what has already been said on the developments in and around Iran. An agreement was reached in 2015, unanimously praised as the highest achievement in today’s diplomacy. It was approved by a UN Security Council resolution that is binding for everyone. But then the United States decided that the agreement did not suit it anymore because it was negotiated by the preceding administration. This stance results to some extent from the domestic political infighting and tensions between Democrats and Republicans. Nevertheless, the US firmly refused to abide by this UN Security Council resolution, and did not stop at that. The US went as far as prohibit all other countries to execute this resolution. This is a paradox that would have been funny if it had not been so serious. A number of hotheads in Washington are eager to resolve the Iranian problem by military means. We do not believe that President Donald Trump has this attitude. I have a feeling that he does not share these views. Unfortunately, many US politicians are still exploring this option. It is my belief that this would be an extremely dangerous development. This region has suffered from Washington’s reckless policies on multiple occasions, for example in Iraq and Libya. After that the so-called coalition wanted to reproduce what had happened in Iraq and Libya in Syria. Fortunately, together with our Turkish and Iranian colleagues we have been able to avert this, and are making progress on the way to a political settlement.
I strongly believe that Iran must be part of a solution to the challenges the region is facing instead of being viewed as the main culprit of what is happening there. For more than 10 years now we have been saying that the Gulf countries, including both Arab countries and the Islamic Republic of Iran, must agree on measures to build confidence and ensure military transparency with the support of the Arab League, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. I also believe that there is no getting away from this. Presenting Iran as the main culprit of what is happening in Syria, on Palestinian territories, in Yemen and in neighbouring countries is tantamount to a confrontational policy which will not help to solve the existing problems. I have no doubt that Iran has to be part of the dialogue, and we have been discussing this with our US and Israeli colleagues. I also believe without any doubt that our efforts to promote this position will gather momentum, since more and more countries come to realise that scenarios of rogue military aggression lead nowhere.