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Lavrov visit will strengthen cooperation, Russia says

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was upset by media involvement in the Magnitsky/Bowder case

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov`s visit to Cyprus on Thursday will contribute to strengthening cooperation and bringing the two countries and peoples closer together, Moscow said.

Lavrov will be on a working visit until Friday and will take part in the events concluding Cyprus’ presidency of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers.

His programme in Nicosia includes a meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades and talks with Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides.

“These talks will cover a broad range of bilateral, international, and regional issues, with particular focus on the inter-community dialogue as part of the Cyprus settlement process. The talks will also include an exchange of views on prospects for Russia’s cooperation with the European Union, and a discussion on the situation in Syria, the Middle East in general, and Ukraine,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

It said Russian-Cypriot relations were traditionally friendly and had developed in a spirit of mutual understanding, which was reflected in the high-level political dialogue between the two countries.

“Russia and the Republic of Cyprus share common or close positions on many issues. Both countries support a swift return to constructive Russia-EU negotiations, strengthening the UN’s central role in international relations as the universal organisation for supporting peace and security, and collective responses by the entire international community to modern threats such as international terrorism, trans-border crime, and drug trafficking,” it said.

It added that the EU’s sanctions against Russia and the measures which Russia took in response had led to a drop in trade and economic cooperation between the two countries, but that Moscow continued to search for ways to mitigate the problem.

The Russian-Cypriot Intergovernmental Commission on Economic Cooperation, which held its eighth session in April 2016 in Moscow, and the Business Council for Cooperation with Cyprus had made a noticeable contribution to this work, it added.

Financial and economic ties are among the key areas of bilateral cooperation between Russia and Cyprus. Cyprus is one of the main channels for bringing foreign investment into the Russian economy and is a leader among countries investing in Russia.

Bilateral trade dropped 2.5 per cent in 2016, compared with 2015, down to $295.5m, while Russian exports to Cyprus rose by 15.9 per cent to $282.8m, and Cypriot exports to Russia fell by 78.5 per cent and came to $12.7 million.

However bilateral trade increased by 34.1 per cent to $56.2m in the first two months of 2017. Around 800,000 Russians visited Cyprus in 2016.

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