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US, RUSSIA TO RESUME NUKE TALKS

Russia called Tuesday on the United States to make a "positive" proposal as the powers open talks on a major disarmament treaty, warning that US insistence on including China could scuttle efforts and said France and Britain must also attend the talks since they are nuclear powers themselves, Shaun Tandon of Agence France Presse (AFP) wrote on June 20, 2020.


Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov will meet in Vienna on June 22 with US envoy Marshall Billingslea to start negotiations on New START, which expires in February. The United States and Russia each had more than 6,000 nuclear warheads in 2019, while China had 290, according to the Washington-based Arms Control Association.

President Donald Trump has walked out on a number of international agreements but voiced a general interest in preserving New START, which obliged the US and Russia to halve their inventories of strategic nuclear missile launchers. Yet, the Trump administration says that a successor to New START, a Cold War legacy negotiated under Barack Obama, should bring in China -- whose nuclear arsenal is growing but remains significantly smaller than those of Russia and the US.

Addressing the Council on Foreign Relations by videoconference, Ryabkov described the US willingness to start negotiations as "good news" but said: "The ball is on the American part of the court." He added: "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." In Beijing, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China had "no intention of participating" in the talks and accused the United States of trying to "deflect responsibilities to others."

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