SECRETARY BLINKEN: Good afternoon. Foreign Minister Lavrov and I finished our meeting a short while ago, and I first want to begin by thanking Switzerland for hosting us, for its traditional hospitality, which is very much appreciated.
I should mention as well that the foreign minister and I had an opportunity to discuss Iran, an example of how the United States and Russia can work together on security issues of shared concern. The talks with Iran about a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA have reached a decisive moment. If a deal is not reached in the next few weeks, Iran’s ongoing nuclear advances will make it impossible to return to the JCPOA.
QUESTION: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Mr. Lavrov has spoken today about hysterical rhetoric, what he calls hysterical rhetoric from the West about an invasion, he claims, to provoke Ukraine. And President Biden said that with what has happened so far, that he believes that Putin will move in because he’s got to do something.
So do you think, as of today, that you have a better understanding from Mr. Lavrov, first of all, of what Putin’s intentions are? Do you have any commitment at all that they will stop the aggression that you say is standing in the way of any positive agreement?
He says that you are going to present written responses, which you’ve just confirmed, but he wants them to be to his original proposals, which you and everyone in the administration has said from the beginning are non-starters, proposals to limit NATO expansion. So will your written answers have any different response to him about NATO expansion, which you just said is nothing, is not negotiable? So where do you see a space for any kind of engagement to defuse this crisis?
And as you – since you brought up Iran, do you think there is the possibility, after talking to Mr. Lavrov, that you and Russia – the U.S. and Russia – and the other allies can get Iran – agree to come into compliance? And will the U.S. then agree to lift sanctions perhaps simultaneously? Thank you very much.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Oh, I’m sorry, I – (inaudible) to address that. So on Iran, I have to say that Russia shares our sense of urgency, the need to see if we can come back into mutual compliance in the weeks ahead. And we hope that Russia will use the influence that it has and relationship that it has with Iran to impress upon Iran that sense of urgency, and equally, that if we’re unable to do that because Iran refuses to undertake the obligations that are necessary, that we will pursue a different path in dealing with the danger posed by Iran’s renewed nuclear program, a program that had been put in a box by the agreement that we had reached in the past, the JCPOA, and that unfortunately has now escaped from that box as a result of us pulling out of the agreement and Iran restarting its dangerous program.