Officials from Moscow and Washington will meet on June 22 in Vienna, but US insistence China should be included is casting doubt over what can be achieved.
Russia and the US confirmed that they will resume talks this month on extending a major nuclear disarmament treaty but Washington’s insistence China should be part of the deal may hamper dialogue.
Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, and Marshall S. Billingslea, the US Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control, will meet in Vienna on June 22 to negotiate an extension to the New START treaty.
Both the US and Russia suspended their obligations last year under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which required them to permanently eliminate nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of between 500 and 5,500 kilometres.
The two countries accused each other of violating the treaty’s obligations but continued to adhere to New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), which limits the number of nuclear warheads Moscow and Washington can have at any one time.
The treaty, however, expires in February 2021.
Ryabkov described the upcoming talks as “good news” in a videoconference with the Council of Foreign Relations.
“We need to hear loudly and clearly what this [US] administration wants, how it believes it would be possible to do something positive and not just dismantle one arms control treaty or arrangement after another,” he added.
The Russia senior official said however that he was “surprised” by the US’ call that China joins the meeting.
Billingslea said on Twitter that Beijing had been invited to the June 22 meeting, adding: “Will China show and negotiate in good faith?”
A spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, however, the country had no intention of participating.
“The US has been dragging China into the issue of the New START extension whenever that issue is raised. This is just what the US does when it wants to deflect responsibilities to others,” they added.
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