Vladivostok, Russia–(ENEWSPF)–September 8, 2012.
MODERATOR: The Secretary of State of the United States of America Hillary Clinton and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov are signing a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Russian Federation on Cooperation in the Antarctic and a Joint Statement on Strengthening U.S.-Russian Inter-Regional Cooperation. (Applause.)
FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: (Via interpreter.) (Inaudible) whole continent (inaudible) the example of constructive cooperation between U.S. and Russia in this area where interests of both countries match. The memorandum provides for regular consultations between the foreign ministers – Foreign Minister of Russia and State Department on implementing the arrangements of the agreement on Antarctic of 1959 and further cooperation of our – between our countries and the relevant international fora. We will continue cooperation in scientific research as well as exchange of experts, exchange of information, expanding interaction, and ensuring expedition activities. This document reflects a mutual interest in continuing inspections of the stations of our countries to demilitarize the Antarctic region and implement environmental requirements. The first such inspection took place in January of this year on the bases of the American station McMurdo. The next inspection is scheduled — I mean, the joint Russian-U.S. inspection is scheduled for the end of this year and will take place on the bases of the Russian station Novolazarevskaya.
We hope that it will be fruitful as well. On the whole, the memorandum demonstrates the interest of our states in joint, mutual, beneficial work in the whole area of Antarctic issues, and the regional — the Statement on Inter-Regional Cooperation affixes the positive experience accumulated in this area and sets our regions in the — and sends us in the direction of promotion on the behalf of government, the development of the continuation of (inaudible). It’s a priority in our cooperation since it covers the (inaudible) citizens.
Today we have adopted the statement which has had to be signed on the need of further completion of work on the natural reserve of Beringia between Chukotka and Alaska. The statement, as well as the documents that we have signed will be available, and I hope that you will get acquainted with them. I would like to thank Secretary of State for our joint work and hope that it will continue in the future.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Foreign Minister Lavrov. And I am delighted to be here, and I thank you for the constructive outcomes of our work together as we sign our Memoranda of Understanding today.
I also want to thank United States Assistant Secretary of State Kerri-Ann Jones and Special Representative for Intergovernmental Affairs Reta Jo Lewis for helping make today’s agreement and statement a reality.
During the past three and a half years, the United States and Russia have deepened our cooperation to address shared challenges. We adopted a New START Treaty, we increased trade and investment, and supported Russia’s joining the WTO. And we’re taking three more steps to do work together.
First, we are formally deepening our scientific cooperation in Antarctica, a continent with vast opportunities for research. Scientists from both our countries will work together to explore Antarctica’s terrain, study the effects of climate change, and cooperate on a range of issues to better understand and protect our shared environment.
And for the first time, U.S. and Russian officials and scientists are working together to enforce the Antarctic Treaty. They are, as Sergey said, inspecting foreign facilities and looking for violations of the treaty and environmental commitments. This treaty was signed in 1959, so this effort is certainly worth celebrating.
The second step we’re taking is designed to stimulate economic growth by harnessing the knowledge and skills of our two nations’ global leaders. We are signing a Joint Statement on Inter-Regional Cooperation to encourage greater collaboration at all levels of our governments. Regional and local officials will host trade delegations and introduce businesses to new markets. And when it comes to economic growth, local partnerships can have global impacts.
Finally, we’re issuing a joint statement that signals our desire to collaborate more closely in the region where our countries are only miles apart, a segment of the Bering Strait we refer to as Beringia. With this statement, we are underscoring our intent to link the United States national parks in Alaska with the soon-to-be designated Beringia National Park. Our goal is to finalize this arrangement in the coming months so park managers and researchers from both countries will be able to increase their efforts to conserve this unique ecosystem as well as the cultural traditions and languages of the indigenous people on both sides of the strait.
Let me also mention one more example of Russian-U.S. cooperation which has special resonance this weekend. Tomorrow our historic visa agreement will come into force. It will facilitate travel between our nations, which will strengthen both people-to-people ties and business contacts. It is fitting that this agreement will come into force during APEC. Business communities in our countries repeatedly ask us for visa liberalization to make it easier for them to work together, and we are happy to be able to deliver.
So this is another very important moment in U.S.-Russian relations. We are grateful for this and other opportunities to work more closely with Russia on areas of common concern that will deliver benefits to the people of both our nations.
So, Minister Lavrov, thank you and your team for all the work that led to these agreements.
FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: Thank you.