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Russia, US hold working dinner to open Geneva talks

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and other Russian officials met for more than two hours with US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, the head of the US delegation, and her team at the luxurious residence of the US Ambassador. Ky at the Disarmament Conference overlooking Lake Geneva.

The dinner was a prelude to a broader discussion between the two teams at the US mission in Geneva starting Monday – culminating in a series of both virtual and face-to-face meetings between US officials , their Western allies and Russian leaders in recent days and weeks as tensions over Russian pressure on Ukraine have grown.

“We delve into the content of upcoming issues, but negotiations will be very difficult,” Ryabkov told reporters as he left the dinner meeting. “They can’t be easy. They will be like business. I think we’re not going to waste our time tomorrow.”

State Department spokesman Ned Price said that at Sunday’s dinner, Sherman “emphasised the United States’ commitment to international principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, and freedoms of nations with sovereign chooses its own alliance”, alluding to Ukraine and its desire to join NATO.

Sherman “affirms that the United States will welcome real progress through diplomacy,” Price said in a statement.

The talks are seen as the first step towards reviving dialogue as relations deteriorate further as Russia has deployed an estimated 100,000 troops along its border with Ukraine. Fears have grown about a broader Russian military attack on the country.

The government of Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a list of demands, such as seeking assurances that the NATO military alliance will not seek to expand further eastward into countries such as Ukraine or Georgia, which were republics of the former Soviet Union.

“The Russian side has come here with a clear position that contains a number of factors that, in my opinion, are understandable and well established – even at a high level – that deviate from the approaches of we simply couldn’t do it,” Ryabkov said.

Asked if Russia was ready for a compromise, he said: “The Americans should be ready to reach a compromise.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told ABC “This Week” on Sunday that he did not expect any breakthrough in negotiations with the Russians in Geneva or in conversations in Brussels, at the meeting of the Russian Federation. NATO-Russia Council and at the Organization for Cooperation. and Security in Europe in Vienna this weekend.

The United States and other Western allies have pledged “great costs” to Russia if it takes action against Ukraine.

“The real question now is whether President Putin will go the route of diplomacy and dialogue or seek confrontation,” Blinken said, suggesting that Russia’s further push into Ukraine could be against his interests. Moscow’s interests in the long run.

“If Russia continues to be aggressive with Ukraine, I think it is a very fair prospect that NATO will strengthen its positions along the eastern flank, those countries that border Russia,” he told ABC. .

According to state news agency Tass, Russia is participating in negotiations to seek a clearer understanding of the US position and cited signals from Washington that some Russian proposals could be discussed. Ryabkov said earlier on Sunday, according to state news agency Tass.

He laid out three Russian demands: no more NATO expansion, no more placing missiles on Russia’s borders, and no more NATO military exercises, intelligence operations or infrastructure beyond its borders in 1997. mine.

US officials on Saturday expressed openness to discussions about limiting possible future offensive missile deployments in Ukraine and placing limits on US military exercises and NATO in Eastern Europe – if Russia is willing to back down from Ukraine.

However, they warn of tough economic sanctions in the event of Russian interference, including direct sanctions on Russian entities and restrictions on export products. from America to Russia.

Ambassador Thomas Greminger, director of the Swiss government-supported Geneva Center for Security Policy, who organized a conference for Ryabkov in October, said the Geneva talks were “an opportunity to speak out about the common concerns, explaining common expectations But it would be too early to expect any clarity, for example, regarding Ukraine’s bid to become a NATO member.

“What we are seeing is a lot of consequences,” said Greminger, who is also a former head of the OSCE. Climb the ladder. ”

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Matthew Lee and Lynn Berry contributed to this report from Washington.

https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/russia-us-hold-working-dinner-open-geneva-talks-82165117 Russia, US hold working dinner to open Geneva talks

Emma Bowman

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