Russian foreign minister looks to boost Greek-Russian ties [Update]

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday emphasized Moscow’s commitment to supporting Greece’s efforts to emerge from its financial crisis and to promote bilateral economic cooperation during talks with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in Athens.

“We support the efforts of the Greek government to surpass the difficulties with the economy,” Lavrov said, adding that he was aware of the progress that has been achieved in reforms and would back Greece’s efforts “in any way we can, on a moral level but also by promoting trade and economic cooperation.”

The Russian envoy also referred to the “longstanding friendship” and “mutual respect” between the two countries and to the increase in Russian tourists visiting Greece.

For his part, Samaras said Moscow and Athens had a strategic and close partnership which was important for both sides.

Lavrov, who was also to meet with President Karolos Papoulias, started his official visit to Athens on Wednesday with talks with his Greek counterpart Evangelos Venizelos.

Energy issues and the future of Greece’s railways were expected to be among the key topics of conversation during Lavrov’s visit.