The United States and Russia have agreed to open a dialogue on nuclear arms control.
In their first meeting in Geneva, with the aim of reducing the risk of armed conflicts and the threat of nuclear war, US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin agreed to begin an integrated bilateral Strategic Stability Dialogue in the near future.
“Through this Dialogue, we seek to lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures,” reads a U.S.-Russia presidential joint statement.
The two leaders also reaffirmed the principle that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.
They agreed to return ambassadors to each other’s capitals. The top diplomats were mutually withdrawn for consultations in March, after Washington accused Moscow of interfering in last year’s U.S. presidential election.
At a post-summit press conference, Biden said the Dialogue, involving military experts and diplomats, will “work on a mechanism that can lead to control of new and dangerous and sophisticated weapons that are coming on the scene now that reduce the times of response, that raise the prospects of accidental war.”
Biden said he handed over to Putin a list of 16 U.S. critical infrastructure entities, from the energy sector to water systems, demanding that they should be off limits to attack by cyber or any other means.
Biden made it clear to President Putin that Washington will continue to raise issues of fundamental human rights, including concerns about cases like jailed Opposition leader Aleksey Navalny. He also raised the case of two American citizens detained in Russia – Paul Whelan and Trevor Reed.
Biden said he also made it clear that the United States will not tolerate attempts to violate its democratic sovereignty or destabilize U.S. democratic elections.
“Russia is in a very, very difficult spot right now. They are being squeezed by China. They want desperately to remain a major power,” he told reporters.
No significant progress was made during the three hour talks, media reports say, while Biden said they paved the way for a genuine prospect to improve U.S. relations with Russia.
The US-Russia summit was the last item in President Biden’s agenda before leaving home. He, along with his Wife Jill Biden, returned to Washington after a hectic week-long European schedule.
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