CAIRO: In a speech at the Arab League in Cairo, Russia’s foreign minister praised member states’ “balanced, just and responsible position” on his country’s conflict with Ukraine.
Sergey Lavrov also emphasized Russia’s determination to deepen cooperation and trade with Arab states.
Regarding Ukraine, he said: “NATO has no right to expand its security at the expense of others, especially Russia.”
Lavrov denied that the global food crisis was caused by the conflict, instead blaming the coronavirus pandemic, drought, and Western sanctions on Russian food, fertilizer and grain.
Before his speech, he met with Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit and representatives of the 22 nations that make up the bloc. Aboul Gheit said he and Lavrov discussed Ukraine, Syria and Palestine.
Lavrov landed in Cairo on Saturday, at the beginning of his tour of Africa that also includes Ethiopia, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
According to Reuters, Lavrov visited Congo Republic on Monday, the second leg of an African tour aimed at strengthening Moscow’s ties with a continent that has refused to join Western condemnation and sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In a column published in newspapers in the four countries included in his tour, Lavrov praised Africa for resisting what he called the West’s attempts to impose a unipolar world order.
“We appreciate the considered African position as to the situation in and around Ukraine,” he wrote in the column, adding that African countries had come under “unprecedented” Western pressure to join the sanctions.
In Congo Republic, a small oil-producing former French colony north of the much larger Democratic Republic of Congo, Lavrov visited President Denis Sassou Nguesso at his residence in the town of Oyo, 400 km from the capital Brazzaville.
Sassou Nguesso has been in power since 1979, with a five-year gap from 1992 to 1997.
In a statement, Lavrov’s spokeswoman said this was the first visit by a Russian or Soviet foreign affairs minister to the country.
She said friendly ties dated back to the Soviet era and that 8,000 Congolese citizens had studied in Russia.
Lavrov was expected in Uganda, where President Yoweri Museveni has a long history of balancing strong ties with Western allies as well as friendly relations with Moscow.
He has visited Russia at least twice since 2010.
In a statement announcing Lavrov’s visit, Museveni’s office said he desired “stronger bilateral relations especially in the areas of defence and security, economic and technical cooperation.”