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US, Russia to Hold Strategic Talks     07/24 06:24


   WASHINGTON (AP) -- The United States and Russia will hold the first round of 
strategic and arms control talks of the Biden administration next week in 
Switzerland, the two countries announced on Friday.

   Wednesday's discussions in Geneva come as the two countries are embroiled in 
myriad disputes ranging from weapons systems to cyberattacks, Ukraine and 
allegations of Russian interference in U.S. elections.

   However, the Geneva talks are expected to deal mainly with strategic 
stability issues as Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin agreed during their 
meeting in the same Swiss city last month.

   "This meeting follows up on a commitment made between President Biden and 
Russian President Putin to have a deliberate and robust dialogue between our 
two nations that will seek to lay the groundwork for future arms control and 
risk reduction measures," the State Department said.

   Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, who is currently traveling in Asia 
and will meet China's foreign minister on Sunday, will lead the U.S. 
delegation, accompanied by the newly confirmed top U.S. arms control diplomat, 
Bonnie Jenkins. Russia's team will be headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey 
Ryabkov, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

   The two sides expect to explore how to move beyond the New START treaty that 
Biden and Putin agreed earlier this year to extend until 2026. That treaty had 
been due to expire in February and former President Donald Trump's 
administration had not moved to extend it.

   The Trump administration had withdrawn from several arms control and related 
agreements with the Russians during its time in office, causing angst among 
U.S. allies in Europe and elsewhere. The previous administration said the pacts 
were outdated and Russia was in persistent violation of them.

   The Biden administration wants further arms negotiations to include Russia's 
numerically superior arsenal of non-strategic nuclear missiles, which are not 
covered by New START and are a particular concern to European allies.

   The Russians have said they will insist that any new agreement include 
negotiated limits on U.S. missile defenses, which they see as a longer-term 
threat to the viability of their strategic arsenal.

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