U.S. ready to discuss modernization of conventional weapons control in Europe with Russia

The United States is prepared to cooperate with Russia in modernizing the system of control over conventional weapons in Europe, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller said.

"CFE [Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty] remains important," she said on her Twitter page. "We look forward to working with Russia and other partners on modernizing conventional arms control in Europe."

"On this day in 1990 the CFE Treaty was signed, contributing to greater security, and stability for all of Europe," she said.

Russia is prepared to start negotiations with NATO on ways to limit conventional weapons in Europe from scratch, Moscow's new envoy to the alliance Alexander Grushko said earlier.

"The most important thing is to launch such consultations, not to say negotiations, without attempts to tie them to political problems," he said at a press briefing in Moscow on Thursday, answering a question from Interfax.

"The situation is more complex today. Hardware itself has changed. New types of weapons and drones have appeared. In my opinion, speaking about the need to start [discussions] from scratch, it is necessary to heed all of these aspects one way or another," Grushko said.

Negotiations aimed at limiting conventional weapons in Europe could be resumed if they focus on this issue alone, he said.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) would be a more suitable platform for such talks than NATO, Grushko said.

"We will be prepared for such joint work," he said. "The ball is now in our partners' court."

Russia suspended the implementation of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty in 2007 following several attempts to adapt it to match the new realities. Moscow said later that it saw no reason to return to the treaty, accusing NATO of both building up its military potential and putting forth unacceptable conditions - Russia's rejection of its recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states.

"In talking about the need to resume control over weapons in Europe, our partners from NATO are demanding as a precondition that we recognize Georgia's sovereignty within the 2008 borders and return to the CFE, which we abandoned because its observance had been sabotaged by NATO members. These are absolutely unrealistic terms," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said then.

This position "make senseless our joint work on problems of control over conventional weapons," he said.

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