US-Russia nuclear non-proliferation talks taking place in Helsinki Monday

Central Helsinki.
Central Helsinki. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

High-level Russia-United States talks on strategic stability and nuclear non-proliferation are to take place in Helsinki, Finland, Monday.

Russian business daily Kommersant said the talks related to the Strategic Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (START) agreement, to be concluded next year; Russia's foreign ministry confirmed the Helsinki meeting would go ahead.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said last month that New START, which aims to replace earlier nuclear non-proliferation talks in the 1990s, most of which foundered, must go ahead. whether or not China joins it.

"I think START needs to be extended regardless of what happens to China," Guterres told Japanese media in an interview.

Washington wants to replace START with an agreement that includes China, but the latter is reluctant to join the negotiations.

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö is to meet with representatives of both countries after the talks, a continuation of a previous round in Vienna, Austria, in August, his press office said.

"Finland is always ready to provide good services to promote peace and security. Providing a credible environment for dialogue, as the parties want, is an important part of this work," the President's Office said ahead of the meeting.

The foreign ministers of both countries also met in Helsinki in 2017.

Current presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin held a summit in the Finnish capital in summer 2018, with the Russian leader returning a little over a year later.

The Russian delegation will be led by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, and the U.S. contingent by Marshall Billingslea,  nominee to be Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs Special Representative of the President of the US Delegation for Arms Control.

New START entered into force in February 2011 and is due to expire next February. It is subject to a five-year extension agreement.

An August statement from Marshall Billingslea said that Washington was no longer demanding Beijing's participation in START talks.

The START treaties date back to the end of the Cold War – the original START treaty was signed in 1991 by Boris Yeltsin and George H.W. Bush - with New START the successor to START II (1993), which was never ratified, and START III (1997) whose talks broke down.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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