Foreign Minister Lavrov says Russia open to talks with US on arms-control pacts
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Foreign Minister Lavrov says Russia open to talks with US on arms-control pacts

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told delegates at the 2019 Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, on Saturday that Russian President Vladimir Putin was ready to negotiate on the extension of the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), which expires in two years. "President Putin has repeatedly said that we are ready to launch the talks on extension of the New START. It only expires in 2021, though time flies fast, and we have suggested to the US that such discussions be launched, considering the necessity to clear up certain issues that we are worried about." On the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), Lavrov said Russia was open to talks with the US about ways to rescue the pact. The Russian foreign minister, however, said there had not been any offers for consultations so far. On February 1, Trump announced Washington’s withdrawal from the Cold War-era treaty, arguing that the Russians had violated it for years by deploying ground-launched missiles that fall within the banned range. Moscow has denied any violation, accusing Washington of breaking the deal. In response, Putin announced on February 2 that Russia also suspends its participation in the INF. The INF treaty prohibited the deployment of nuclear-armed intermediate-range ballistic missile with a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometers in Europe. Experts believe Trump’s decision to pull out of non-proliferation treaties with the Russians will start a new arms race. The Russian foreign minister also relayed the Kremlin's concerns to the security conference delegates about Western countries' tendency to use their own rules to interpret the Chemical Weapons Convention. "They are unwilling to let the international law remain as the Chemical Weapons Convention defines it. They want to use their own rules for interpreting that convention," he said. In November 2018, Lavrov said they were using the convention as a "tool to promote Western policies." The 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention is an arms-control treaty that bans the manufacturing, stockpiling, and use of chemical weapons. It paved the way for the creation of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

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