The video is also available with closed captioning on YouTube.
First of all, Foreign Minister Lavrov and I both want to thank Lakhdar Brahimi and the United Nations for their invitation to have a discussion today about the question of the Geneva 2 conference. As everybody knows, the principal reason that Foreign Minister Lavrov and I are here are to have discussions with respect to the initiative to gain control of and remove and destroy the chemical weapons in Syria. That is our principal mission here in Geneva. And I think we would both agree that we had constructive conversations regarding that, but those conversations are continuing and both of us want to get back to them now.
We came here this morning at the invitation of the Special Representative for the Geneva 2 and Syria negotiations in order to discuss where those negotiations are and how we can advance them. I will say on behalf of the United States that President Obama is deeply committed to a negotiated solution with respect to Syria, and we know that Russia is likewise. We are working hard to find the common ground to be able to make that happen and we discussed some of the homework that we both need to do. I’m not going to go into it in any detail today. We both agreed to do that homework and meet again in New York around the time of the UN General Assembly, around the 28th, in order to see if it is possible then to find a date for that conference, much of which will obviously depend on the capacity to have success here in the next day, hours, days, on the subject of the chemical weapons.
Both of us – Sergey Lavrov and I, our countries, our presidents – are deeply concerned about the death toll and destruction, the acts on both sides, all sides that are creating more and more refugees, more and more of the humanitarian catastrophe. And we are committed to try to work together, beginning with this initiative on the chemical weapons, in hopes that those efforts could pay off and bring peace and stability to a war-torn part of the world. And we’re very appreciative for Lakhdar Brahimi hosting us today in an effort to try to advance this initiative.
FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: Thank you very much. Ladies and gentlemen, we had a very useful meeting with Lakhdar Brahimi. As you know, as John said just now, we are here basically to discuss the issue of chemical weapons in Syria. Now that the Assad government joined the Chemical Weapons Convention, we have to engage our professionals together with the Chemical Weapons Prohibition Organization, as we agreed with the United Nations, to design a road which would make sure that this issue is resolved quickly, professionally, as soon as practical.
But we are very glad to Lakhdar Brahimi for inviting us on this occasion to discuss a longer-term goal for Syria, namely the preparation for the conference which is called Geneva 2. Russia, the Russian President from very beginning of the Syrian conflict, have been promoting a peaceful resolution. We have firmly supported the Arab League initiative, their being observers, and we supported Kofi Annan’s initiative, the UN observers, and we were one of the initiators of convening Geneva 1. Last year here, we adopted the Geneva communique, resolved major – almost all major players, including all P-5 countries for the region, Arab League, Turkey, European Union, United Nations. And it is very unfortunate that for a long period the Geneva communique was basically abandoned and we were not able to have endorsement of this very important document in the Security Council, as is as adopted.
Thanks to John, who after becoming Secretary of State in spite of his huge workload on Arab-Israeli conflict understood the importance of moving on Syria and doing something about this. And I am very grateful for him for coming to Moscow on May 7th this year when we launched the Russian-American initiative to convene a Geneva conference to implement fully the Geneva communique, which means that the Syrian parties must reach mutual consent on the transitional governing organ which would command full executive authority. And the communique also says that all groups of Syrian society must be represented.
And we discussed these aspects and other aspects of the preparatory work today with Lakhdar Brahimi and his team. We are very grateful to Lakhdar for his insight, for the suggestions which he made and which we will be entertaining as we move forward parallel with the work on chemical weapons. We agreed to meet in New York in the margins of the General Assembly and see where we are and what the Syrian parties think about it and do about it. And we hope that we will be able to be a bit more specific when we meet with you in New York.
SPECIAL ENVOY BRAHIMI: Thank you very much indeed, both of you, first of all, for coming to talk to us in the Palais de Nation in Geneva. We look forward to the work you are doing on chemical weapons in Syria. It is extremely important in itself and for itself, but it is also extremely important for us who are working with you on trying to bring together the Geneva 2 conference successfully.
Our discussions today, as you have both said now, have been useful. And we are not going to retain you much longer; you have other business to do. Thank you again very, very much indeed for being here.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thanks, Lakhdar.
FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: Thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, sir.
SPECIAL ENVOY BRAHIMI: Thank you very much.