Merkel seeks talks with Russia after US withdrawal from n-treaty

Merkel seeks talks with Russia after US withdrawal from n-treaty

Berlin, Feb 2 (IANS) German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said her government will use a six-month notice period to keep negotiating with Russia over the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.

“In any case, we will do everything we can on the German side, both the Federal Foreign Minister and I, to make talks possible again in these six months,” Merkel said on Friday, Xinhua reported.

The Donald Trump administration announced on Friday that the US is withdrawing from a landmark nuclear arms control pact with Russia, a move seen as exacerbating the risk of an international arms race.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the announcement on Friday morning at the State Department, citing Russia’s violation of the deal, a claim that has been repeatedly denied by Moscow.

“We will provide Russia and the other treaty parties with formal notice that the US is withdrawing from the INF Treaty, effective in six months,” Pompeo said.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also claimed a breach of the INF treaty by Russia.

“We must take note that the treaty is being violated by the Russian side,” he said. “A treaty that includes two signatory states and that is violated by one side is effectively suspended.”

Russia has been denying the allegations and was “still interested in restoring normal relations with the US and the European Union on the principles of equality and mutual consideration of interests”, according to Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov.

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned in late December against a collapse of the international arms deterrence system, which could aggravate the threat of a global nuclear catastrophe.

The INF Treaty was signed in 1987 between the Soviet Union and the US on the elimination of intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles. The deal marked the first-ever pact reached by Washington and Moscow on nuclear disarmament and a major step forward in restricting arms race.

However, the two sides have been accusing each other of violating the arms control agreement in recent years amid increasing tensions.

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