Russia says it expects US arms control talks agreed at summit to start within weeks

After a first summit both Biden and Putin described as pragmatic rather than friendly


Reuters June 17, 2021
Russian deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov arrives for a meeting with US special envoy Marshall Billingslea in Vienna, Austria June 22, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

MOSCOW:

Russia expects arms control talks with the United States that were agreed at a summit in Geneva to start within weeks, Russia's deputy foreign minister said in an interview published on the foreign ministry's website on Thursday.

US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed at a summit in Geneva on Wednesday to embark on an integrated bilateral Strategic Stability Dialogue to lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures.

They also agreed to hold cyber-security talks, recording small gains and big differences at a first summit they both described as pragmatic rather than friendly.

The discussions at the lakeside Villa La Grange in Geneva lasted three hours - less than Biden's advisers had said they expected - but the US president said they had been intense and detailed, and that "we didn't need to spend more time talking".

Putin, 68, called Biden, 78, a constructive, experienced partner, and said they spoke "the same language", but added that there had been no friendship, rather a pragmatic dialogue about their two countries' interests.

Read: Biden calls for 'basic rules of the road' at summit with Putin

Biden said he had told Putin "we need some basic rules of the road that we can all abide by", adding: "I did what I came to do."

The scheduling of separate news conferences meant there was none of the joviality that accompanied a 2018 meeting in Helsinki between Putin and Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, where Putin presented Trump with a soccer ball. There was also no shared meal.

In a joint statement issued after the news conferences, the two sides said the meeting showed that they were able to make progress on shared goals even in periods of tension.

Putin, who was first to brief reporters, said the meeting had been constructive, without hostility, and had showed the leaders' desire to understand each other.

He said it was "hard to say" if relations with the United States would improve, but that there was a "glimpse of hope" regarding mutual trust. There were no invitations to Washington or Moscow.

Biden, speaking shortly afterwards, said there was "no substitute for face-to-face dialogue", and that he had told Putin his agenda was "not against Russia" but "for the American people".

He, too, underlined the businesslike tone, saying: "This is not about trust, this is about self-interest and verification of self-interest." But he said there was a "genuine prospect" of improving relations.

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