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Lavrov 'Not Optimistic' About New START Treaty Talks With U.S.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (file photo)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (file photo)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says he is "not particularly optimistic" about a possible extension of the New START nuclear arms-control treaty with the United States.

Lavrov said in Moscow on July 10 that the insistence by the United States that China join the treaty, a move that was quickly rejected by Beijing, suggests Washington has already decided not to prolong the pact once it expires in February next year.

"It seems that the U.S. has already decided not to prolong this treaty. Their vigor in focusing on the lack of an alternative to trilateral talks shows that this has been decided,” Lavrov said, according to the Interfax news agency.

Last month, U.S. and Russian envoys held talks in Vienna to discuss a replacement for the pact, but Washington wants Beijing to be included in any future agreements on nuclear weapons.

China has repeatedly rejected trilateral talks on nuclear weapons, arguing that it has a much smaller nuclear arsenal than the United States and Russia.

The New START treaty limits the number of U.S.- and Russian-deployed strategic warheads to 1,550 each, .

The meeting in Austria -- the first such U.S.-Russian talks in more than a year -- ended with both sides expressing hope for a second round of talks.

The U.S. envoy for arms control, Marshall Billingslea, said that he and his Russian counterpart, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, agreed to set up "multiple" technical working groups and that a second meeting would ultimately depend on their progress.

Lavrov said on July 10 that three Russian-U.S. working groups will hold consultations in Vienna in late July on "space, transparency in nuclear weapons, and nuclear doctrines."

"Big day for strategic security diplomacy with Russia," the U.S. State Department Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation (ISN) tweeted earlier.

U.S. Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation Chris Ford and the Russian ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Antonov, have "finalized planning for a Space Security Exchange at end of July," it said.

Ford also invited Ryabkov to a "new round of the Strategic Security Dialogue" that the two last held in January.

With reporting by Reuters, Interfax, and RIA Novosti
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