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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Security Chief Meets With Lavrov

U.S. National Security Adviser James Jones met with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday, opening a day of negotiations focused on downsizing nuclear arsenals.

Jones, a retired general, also met with his counterpart, Security Council chief Nikolai Patrushev, and Kremlin foreign policy aide Sergei Prikhodko, Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said on state television.

“They spoke about a wide range of issues in the Russian-U.S. strategic dialogue, especially concerning the Geneva talks on a new agreement to limit strategic nuclear weapons,” he said. “Overall, we view Mr. Jones’ visit as successful.”

Jones also discussed developments in Iran and Afghanistan, Nesterenko said.

The two countries are holding talks to replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which expires Dec. 5. Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev have made a new arms-control agreement the centerpiece of a “reset” in relations, agreeing at a summer summit in Moscow to cut the number of nuclear warheads each possesses to between 1,500 and 1,675 within seven years.

“The talks are picking up speed and we are counting on progress,” Lavrov told reporters after meeting Jones. “We will report to the presidents when they meet in Singapore.”

Heads of states from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group will meet in Singapore next month.

On leaving the Foreign Ministry, Jones said he and Lavrov had a “very good discussion on a number of bilateral issues,” without elaborating.

Washington has sought to separate the issue of arms reduction from plans to station a missile defense system in Central Europe, but Moscow is unlikely to overlook them.

Referring to arms reduction and missile defense, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov claimed that “an objective interconnection between these two platforms of strategic stability has not disappeared,” according to comments published Thursday in the Vremya Novostei newspaper.

(Bloomberg, AP)