Russia warns US against including China at nuclear disarmament talks

Moscow says ‘ball is on the American part of the court’

(Image credit: Alexy Nikolsky/AFP/Getty Images)

Russia has warned that trying to include China in upcoming talks with the US over extending a major nuclear disarmament treaty may scupper the negotiations.

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov is due to meet US envoy Marshall Billingslea on 22 June in Vienna to begin negotiations on extending New Start - an agreement that obliges the two superpowers “to halve their inventories of strategic nuclear missile launchers”, says The Guardian.

Donald Trump’s administration has suggested that the US president is interested in extending the deal - which is set to expire in February - but believes talks should involve China, which has a growing nuclear arsenal, says the South China Morning Post.

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However, Russia is unambiguously against including Beijing, says France 24.

“My answer to a direct question on whether or not we think it would be possible to bring China to the table would be a flat and straightforward no,” Ryabkov told the Council on Foreign Relations during a video conference from Moscow.

“Now it depends on the US – if the US believes it’s worth continuing this dialogue with Russia or, for the US point of view, the Chinese participation is an absolute imperative that precludes [the] US from continuing a meaningful and forward-looking dialogue with Russia on arms control,” he said.

On a positive note, Ryabkov described the US willingness to start negotiations as “good news”.

“The ball is on the American part of the court,” he said. “We need to hear loudly and clearly what this administration wants, how it believes it would be possible to do something positive and not just to dismantle one arms control treaty or arrangement after another.”

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