The United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on April 17 to tell that any future arms control talks must include China. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus in a statement said, "Pompeo told Sergey Lavrov that future arms control talks must be based on President Trump’s vision for a trilateral arms control agreement that includes both Russia and China".
Ortagus said, "Secretary Pompeo and Foreign Minister Lavrov discussed the next steps in the bilateral Strategic Security Dialogue, taking into account the COVID-19 pandemic". According to reports, President Donald Trump had last year proposed that the United States, Russia, China negotiate a new arms pact to replace the New START treaty signed between Washington and Moscow in Prague in 2010.
The treaty is a nuclear arms reduction agreement between the United States and the Russian Federation and will reportedly expire in February 2021 unless both the countries agree to extend it for up to five years. As per reports, foreign minister Sergey Lavrov reiterated Russia's proposal to extend the START treaty during his telephonic conversation with Secretary Pompeo.
Media reports suggest that US administration officials insist on bringing China into the new arms control pact because of the growing threat posed by its nuclear arsenal, that the country is currently modernising. Some arms experts also suggest that the move by Trump administration to call for the inclusion of China into the new arms pact is a strategy to kill the START treaty and end restraints on US arms deployment.
Ortagus in the statement added that the Secretary and the Foreign Minister also discussed bilateral issues, including the detention of US citizens in Russia among other matters. However, Ortagus did not reveal the identity and the number of US citizens currently detained in Russia.
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