US-Russia hold new strategic talks on arms control

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States and Russia on Thursday held a new round of talks focused on arms control and reducing misunderstandings on critical security issues.

Senior U.S. and Russian diplomats met in Vienna, Austria, for the latest session of their strategic security dialogue that aims to limit risk of misperceptions leading to conflict, the State Department said.

“The U.S. and Russian delegations discussed nuclear stockpiles and strategy, crisis and arms race stability, and the role and potential future of arms control, including the importance of moving beyond a solely bilateral format,” the department said in a statement. The Trump administration is pressing to expand arms control deals to include China, something in which Beijing has shown little interest.

The Trump administration has already pulled out of one major arms control deal with Russia — the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces, or INF Treaty — and is considering exiting a second one that provides for each country to conduct overflights of the other’s sensitive sites. Another treaty, new START, is due to expire next year and the Trump administration has signaled it may let it lapse.

The statement said the two sides would soon begin more detailed expert-level discussions on the topics.

Thursday’s meeting was the second in the format that was set up last year with former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov as the heads. Sullivan is now the U.S. ambassador to Russia and the American delegation was lead by Christopher Ford, the assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation.

Ford plans to travel to Brussels, Belgium, on Friday to brief NATO allies on the talks, the department said.

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