Russia is open to more high-level talks with the United States, a top diplomat said on Friday, but the Kremlin dismissed the idea of a summit between President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden as “out of the question” for now.
Officials from the two countries are set to meet in the Egyptian capital of Cairo from Nov. 29 to Dec. 6 to discuss resuming inspections under the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty, although Moscow has played down the prospect of a quick breakthrough.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Moscow is open to further talks with the United States on “strategic stability” – a term used to mean reducing the risk of nuclear war – if Washington is willing.
“If the Americans show interest and readiness, we will not refuse,” Ryabkov was quoted by state media as saying.
He said, however, that there was “nothing to talk about” with the Americans on the subject of Ukraine. “There can simply be no dialogue, let alone negotiations, given the radical opposing positions,” he was quoted by Interfax as saying earlier.
The Kremlin, meanwhile, rejected the idea that Putin and Biden – who last met in person in June 2021 – could hold a summit again now.
“A summit is out of the question at the moment,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
The White House in February agreed in principle to hold another meeting with Putin on the condition that Russia did not invade Ukraine, but Moscow sent troops in days later, sending bilateral relations to an all-time low.
Russian and U.S. officials have sporadically held talks since, with news emerging this month that U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan had engaged in confidential discussions with Russian officials, aimed at lowering the risk of a broader war over Ukraine.
CIA director William Burns met Sergei Naryshkin, head of Russian foreign intelligence, in Ankara this week and warned him about the consequences of any Russian use of nuclear weapons, the White House said. Russia has said the issues discussed were “sensitive” and declined to comment on them.