Director-General Ahmet Üzümcü met today with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Mr Sergey Lavrov, who is in The Hague to attend the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS).
The Director-General discussed with the Foreign Minister the ongoing OPCW-UN Joint Mission in Syria. The mission is a product of the U.S.-Russia framework agreement to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons programme, which was announced by Mr Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry last September in Geneva. Russia has provided material support for the Syrian government to move its chemical arsenal out of the country, and a Russian warship is providing security in Syria’s territorial waters and at the port of Latakia for the maritime transport operations.
The Director-General commended the Russian Federation for its close engagement and vital support to the ongoing mission in Syria, and for the steady progress made by Russia in the destruction of its own remaining chemical weapons stockpiles. He updated the Foreign Minister on the schedule for destroying the Syrian chemicals and stressed that ongoing engagement by the Russian Federation at all levels will be vital to the success of the mission.
“We are very honoured by your visit to the OPCW – the first by a Russian Foreign Minister – and we appreciate the support that’s been extended by the Russian Federation to our organisation over the past 17 years,” the Director-General told a media stakeout. “We also highly appreciate the leadership shown by the Russian Federation and the United States in the process of eliminating Syrian chemical weapons… and are looking forward to the successful completion of this project.”
Mr Lavrov commended the OPCW for its work in Syria and assured the Director-General of Russia’s continued support for the mission.
“We highly appreciate the professionalism of your people in everything you’re doing and especially in the Syrian operation, it’s something where this professionalism is really needed very much.” Mr Lavrov said. “I’m glad the operation develops quite satisfactorily, and we have all reasons to believe the timing would be kept.”
The meeting with Mr Lavrov is one of a series the Director-General will have this week with world leaders who are attending the NSS. The Director-General will attend the summit as a VIP observer.