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Foreign Affairs Minister of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov said his country appreciated and respected South Africa’s stance on the ongoing conflict with Ukraine.
Co-chairing a bilateral meeting in Pretoria with Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Naledi Pandor on Monday, Lavrov said South Africa had demonstrated a “responsible” approach.
“I would like to highly appreciate the position of principle of South Africa, including the position in which you, Madam Minister (Pandor), introduced in your recent interview.
“I respect the openness and the responsible approach which you demonstrated on the basis of your allegiance to the key national interests of South Africa and its people,” said Lavrov.
“So, I look forward to the negotiations, and once again thank you for your invitation, and for your hospitality.”
Lavrov said dialogue between the two parties is “very much confidential, friendly, open, sincere”. He said he appreciated the close contact.
Moving on, Lavrov said his country was in favour of peaceful, negotiated resolution of disputes.
“Unfortunately most of the conflicts launched by our Western colleagues did not lead to any improvement of the situation. This is not something that we will inherit.
“With regards to the situation between us and Ukraine, it is well known that we supported the proposal of Ukrainian side to negotiate in the special military operation and by the end of March, in Istanbul, two delegations agreed on the principles to settle this conflict. It is well known, it was published openly that our American, British and some European colleagues told Ukraine that it is too early to deal,” said Lavrov.
“So, the arrangement that was agreed was never revisited by the Kiev regime. In September, President (Volodymyr) Zelenskiy signed a decree prohibiting all Ukrainian officials to negotiate on anything with the Russian Federation.”
He said the present conflict could be traced back to that “lack of negotiation”.
Lavrov is in South Africa on an official visit at Pandor’s invitation. The tour has attracted criticism from some sections owing to Russia’s invasion of its neighbour, Ukraine, given South Africa’s “neutral” stance in the conflict.
However, South Africa has maintained strong ties with its partners in the BRICS forum – Brazil, India, Russia and China.
Diplomatic relations between the Russian Federation and South Africa were established on February 28 1992.