Blinken and Lavrov meet for first time since invasion

time:2023-06-03 21:38:57 source:BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has told his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov to "end this war of aggression" against Ukraine.

The remarks are the first Mr Blinken has made face to face to Mr Lavrov since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion more than a year ago.

The two met briefly on the sidelines of the G20 summit in India's capital Delhi on Thursday.

Mr Blinken also raised the case of Paul Whelan, an American detained in Russia.

A senior State Department official said the discussion in Delhi lasted less than 10 minutes - they spoke "on the move" said the Russian foreign ministry, downplaying the exchange.

"I told the foreign minister [Sergei Lavrov] what I and so many many others said last week at the United Nations, and what so many G20 foreign ministers said today - end this war of aggression, engage in meaningful diplomacy that can produce a just and lasting peace," Mr Blinken said at a briefing after the talks.

He said he also urged Russia to rejoin the New START nuclear arms control treaty, describing as "irresponsible" Moscow's recent decision to suspend its participation in the agreement.

Russia Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova confirmed that the meeting took place but gave no further details.

The last time Mr Blinken and Mr Lavrov met was in Geneva in January 2022.

Earlier on Thursday, Mr Lavrov accused Western countries of trying to influence neutral states to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"The West continues its attempts to push everyone and everything," he said.

Mr Lavrov didn't say anything about the "elbow brush" with his US counterpart - but it was clearly not a diplomatic negotiation.

During the G20 meeting he accused the West of encouraging Kyiv to continue the war.

The failure of foreign ministers to agree on a joint statement showed that differences over the war have hardened in the past year.

Mr Blinken reportedly held talks with top diplomats during the Delhi summit to rally support for Ukraine.

He repeated his condemnation of Russia to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva later in the day, appearing via video link.

But he said that Russian President Vladimir Putin had "demonstrated zero interest in engaging".

The G20, which includes the world's 19 wealthiest nations plus the European Union, accounts for 85% of global economic output and two-thirds of its population.

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