Roundup: Russian, French ministers praise bilateral 2+2 format restart

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MOSCOW, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) -- The foreign and defense ministers of Russia and France praised on Monday the restoration of bilateral contacts within the Security Cooperation Council in the 2+2 format, a meeting which was held for the first time since 2014.

"The 2+2 format is a good opportunity to analyze key problems of our time in their entirety, both from a diplomatic and military-political angle, and, where possible, try to take joint or coordinated steps," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

"Today we have outlined a number of areas in which we consider such progress quite possible and necessary," he said, speaking at a press conference after the meeting, which took place in the Russian capital.

The agreement to hold a new meeting in the 2+2 format was reached by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron at a meeting in August.

Russian-French meetings in this format were suspended after Russia incorporated Crimea in 2014 following a popular referendum, which Western countries never recognized.

Lavrov said that the Russian participants stated at the meeting that the situation in the relations between Russia and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) could not be called satisfactory.

He said that it was caused primarily by the "destructive policy of a series of Western countries, primarily the United States aimed to contain Russia, the transfer of the division lines closer to the Russian borders, within the indiscriminate expansion of the NATO and the so called strengthening of the Eastern flank of the alliance."

Lavrov said that the participants discussed the situation in the sphere of strategic stability after the withdrawal of the United States from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

Russian and French ministers agreed to continue working for the preservation of the Iran nuclear deal, Lavrov said.

While discussing the situation in the Middle East, the parties agreed to continue on a coordinated response to terrorists remaining in Syria and on solving humanitarian problems, including facilitating the return of refugees and starting the political process through the creation of a constitutional committee, he said.

"We must definitely work to restore strategic stability in Europe in order to create the new architecture proposed by the President of the French Republic, since Europe will never be safe if we do not have clear and strong relations with Russia," French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said at the press conference.

He said that Russia and France, powers responsible for regional and global security, needed to overcome the existing differences and to restart bilateral dialogue.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu recalled that in the last few years the number of problems related to the international security has increased substantially.

It is only possible to solve them through coordinated actions of various states, and an important contribution to this process can be made by the defense ministries of Russia and France, he said.

French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly said at the press conference that she hoped the meeting would help to avoid incidents between the armed forces of Russia and NATO in various parts of the world, outer space and in cyberspace. Enditem

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