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Russian, US diplomats to discuss arms control in Vienna on June 22-23

The US also invited China to join the discussion

WASHINGTON, June 20. /TASS/. US Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea will meet with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov in Austria’s Vienna on June 22-23, China was also invited to attend the talks, the US Department of State’s press service said.

"Billingslea will travel to Austria June 22-23 to meet with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov on mutually agreed topics related to the future of arms control," the statement says. "The United States has extended an open invitation to the People’s Republic of China to join these discussions, and has made clear the need for all three countries to pursue arms control negotiations in good faith."

Ryabkov and Billingslea had a phone conversation on May 8.

New arms deal 

A new arms control agreement should completely cover the nuclear arsenals of Russia and China, Billingslea said.

"Completely agree with Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs. New arms control should definitely involve Russia AND China, and cover entire nuclear arsenals of both those countries," Billingslea said in a Twitter post, commenting on an entry made by Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius.

According to Linkevicius, a new arms control agreement "should involve both Russia and China, and the whole suite of Russian nuclear arsenal, including non-strategic nuclear weapons."

Earlier, Ryabkov said that the US mention of the Chinese side’s possible arrival to the Vienna talks raised eyebrows in Moscow. Chinese foreign ministry Zhao Lijian said on Wednesday that the US government’s attempts to engage China in Russian-US talks on nuclear weapons were absurd, because Washington is constantly seeking to violate its commitments under the existing agreement.

According to Bloomberg, the issue of extending the Russian-US treaty on reduction of strategic arms, also known as New START, will be raised at the Vienna talks.