Russia ready for dialogue with US on Open Skies Treaty

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Moscow, May 23 (IANS) Russia is open to dialogue with the US on the Treaty on Open Skies, but only if it is based on equal rights and aimed at mutual consideration of interests and concerns, the Foreign Ministry here said in a statement.

Earlier on Friday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that the Ministry had received an official note about the US decision to begin the procedure of withdrawal from the treaty, reports Xinhua news agency.

“This is deeply regrettable, as significant damage is being done to the European security,” the ministry’s statement said.

“The security of the US itself will not be strengthened, and its authority in international affairs will certainly suffer,” it added.

Later in the day, the Ministry recalled that American official representatives said that the US may reconsider its decision to withdraw from the treaty if Russia in the coming months unconditionally fulfils all their requirements.

“This is an ultimatum. On this basis, the dialogue will not work,” said the statement.

The US decision to pull out of the treaty raises questions about Washington’s policy consistency, and caused serious concern even among the American allies, it said.

Washington’s decision did not take Russia by surprise, as it fully fits into its line on the destruction of the whole complex of agreements in the field of arms control and confidence-building in the military field, the statement added.

Russia will build its policy regarding the Open Skies treaty, proceeding solely from the interests of its national security, in close cooperation with its allies and partners, it further said.

Friday’s development comes after US President Donald Trump on Thursday announced that he was withdrawing from the Open Skies Treaty, saying that “Russia didn’t adhere to the treaty. Until they adhere we will pull out” .

He also said that there was a “very good chance we’ll reach a new agreement” with Russia.

The Treaty on Open Skies, the implementation of which is monitored by the Vienna-based Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe, has been in force since 2002 and allows its 34 signatory nations to fly over any part of one another’s territory, photographing from the air, with the aim of ensuring that other countries or rivals were not preparing military attacks.

The official notification of Washington’s withdrawal from the pact will be presented on Friday, which implies that within six months, which is by November 22, the US will no longer be a party to the agreement.

–IANS
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