US and Russia hold 'substantive' arms control talks in Geneva

Latest meeting part of continuing efforts to ease tension

Russian and US diplomats meet for a second round of strategic dialogue in Geneva. AFP
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The US and Russia said in a joint statement on Thursday that they had held “intensive and substantive” talks in their second meeting within a framework that is aimed at easing tension between the world's major nuclear powers.

The two countries have agreed to set up two working groups that will focus on relieving strained relations in several areas. The groups will convene before a third plenary meeting, though a date for the third gathering was not provided.

US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose countries hold 90 per cent of the world's nuclear weapons, agreed at a June summit in Geneva to embark on an integrated bilateral “Strategic Stability Dialogue” to lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures.

Armed with mandates from their leaders, delegations from the two nations restarted talks in July, the first time in nearly a year that the two had held strategic stability talks amid friction over a range of issues, including arms control.

The second meeting held on Thursday in Geneva included delegations headed by Wendy Sherman, the US deputy secretary of state, and Sergei Ryabkov, Russia's deputy foreign minister.

The delegations agreed the working groups would focus on principles and objectives for future arms control as well as capabilities and actions with strategic effects.

A senior US administration official told reporters that Washington considered it “a very productive meeting".

“Today, the discussion was very interactive and broad-based, and we think we were able to cover a variety of issues,” the administration official said, declining to provide specifics.

“I think this was a good building-on of the meeting that we had in July and both delegations really engaging in a detailed and dynamic exchange,” the official added.

Updated: September 30, 2021, 11:42 PM