US and Russia to hold nuclear talks – State Department
American and Russian diplomats will meet to discuss the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty “in the near future,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters on Tuesday. Earlier, Bloomberg and Kommersant cited sources who said that a meeting of the Bilateral Consultative Commission (BCC) may soon be held in Egypt.
“We have agreed that the BCC will meet in the near future. Under the terms of the New START treaty, the work of the BCC is confidential, but we do hope for a constructive session,” Price said at a press briefing.
The US believes in the “transformative power of diplomacy and dialogue” but is “clear-eyed and realistic” about what it can accomplish when it comes to Russia, Price added. The conversations are “focused on risk-reduction” but Washington wants to ensure that the ability to pass messages back and forth with Moscow “does not atrophy.”
“If there is, and it sounds like there will be, a meeting of the BCC, that is a good thing,” Price added, before correcting himself to say that the meeting will definitely happen.
While Price would not name the venue for the meeting, Bloomberg mentioned Cairo as a neutral location that is more acceptable to Russia than Geneva, since Switzerland has taken part in the US and EU sanctions on Moscow over the Ukraine conflict.
The New START is the last remaining nuclear arms control agreement between the US and Russia, set to expire in 2026 unless renewed. The BCC last met in October 2021.
Moscow suspended the inspection regime under the treaty in August, citing Western sanctions that have prevented Russian inspectors from doing their work in the US, thus putting Washington at an unfair advantage. The Russian Foreign Ministry said the inspections would continue once the principle of parity and equality is restored. Inspections had previously been disrupted by lockdowns in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.