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US and Russia to continue strategic talks in Geneva

US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov greet each other at the start of their meeting in Geneva, Switzerland on Wednesday July 28, 2021. (Credit: Keystone/US Mission Geneva via AP)

The United States and Russia will meet in Geneva on Thursday for a second round of strategic talks on issues ranging from nuclear arms control to cyberspace.

President Biden's deputy secretary of state Wendy Sherman and Russia's deputy foreign minister Sergey Ryabkov will lead their respective delegations.

Future of arms control: what's on the table?

The exact scope of talks has not been disclosed. However, the US State Department said that the two sides intended “to have a deliberate and robust dialogue that will seek to lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures.” The United States and Russia possess more than 90 per cent of the world's nuclear weapons.

The talks follow an initial meeting in Geneva in July, which was agreed on after President Joe Biden and President Vladimir Putin's landmark summit in Geneva in June. The two powers agreed to restart bilateral discussions on “strategic stability” issues, including nuclear arms control.

The US described the first round of talks between Sherman and Ryabkov, as “substantive and professional,” but said they had failed to produce concrete results except for the agreement to meet again later in the year.

Speaking after the July meeting, Ryabkov said that although there were “significant differences on key issues” between the sides, “there are also points of convergences, and we intend to capitalize on them.”

The discussions are the first since Biden took office and agreed with Russia to extend the bilateral New START nuclear arms control treaty in February for a further five years. The treaty limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads, missiles and bombers that the two countries can deploy.

The US State Department said that following Thursday's meeting in Geneva, Sherman would travel to Bern and then to Uzbekistan, and finish her trip in India and Pakistan – both nuclear powers.