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Lavrov, Mogherini Hold Talks In Brussels

European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini (left) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attend a joint press conference in Moscow in April.
European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini (left) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attend a joint press conference in Moscow in April.

EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini says she and visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov have discussed the Libyan crisis, Persian Gulf tensions, the stalled Middle East peace process, along with the situation in North Korea and Ukraine.

Mogherini said at a joint news conference after the talks in Brussels on July 11 that she and Lavrov regularly discussed global problems affecting their interests, but that the two sides continued to have different stances on a number of issues.

Ties between Russia and the European Union have been strained since Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

"It is clear we do not share the same positions on everything is essential from our perspective to engage, cooperate wherever possible and today we identified ground for cooperation," Mogherini said.

Mogherini noted that the EU was still seeking full implementation of the Minsk cease-fire accords on Ukraine, agreed to by Russia as part of efforts to end fighting between Ukrainian government forces and Moscow-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country. The conflict has left more than 10,000 people dead since early 2014.

Earlier on July 11, EU member states formally approved a landmark cooperation accord with Ukraine ahead of a high-profile summit in Kyiv.

Mogherini also mentioned the cease-fire in southwest Syria announced after the G20 meeting between presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin last week.

"We see this as a first step to a broader nationwide cease-fire," she said.

At the same time, she reiterated that the EU has provided almost 10 billion euros ($11.5 billion) in humanitarian aid for Syrians who wanted a "normal life."

Lavrov in turn said, "We all know the contribution the EU is making...but it is high time to consider the humanitarian impact of EU and U.S. sanctions [against] Damascus."

Russia has intervened in the conflict on the side of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Mogherini also said that the European Union respects the United States' review of the 2015 deal with Iran but will make clear to Washington that it was an international accord endorsed by the United Nations.

"The nuclear deal doesn't belong to one country, it belongs to the international community," she said, adding, "we have the responsibility to make sure that this continues to be implemented."

The deal between Iran and six world powers restricts Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for easing oil and financial sanctions.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump said in April it was launching an interagency review of whether the lifting of sanctions against Iran was in the United States' national security interests.

With reporting by AFP, Reuters, and Rikard Jozwiak in Brussels
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