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Russia Ready to Hold Talks on New Arms Agreement

Russia is ready to hold talks on a new agreement to control conventional arms in Europe, a Russian Foreign Ministry official said Wednesday, after Russia announced the end of its participation in the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe.

"We are ready to look at the possibility and carry out corresponding talks on a new agreement which would adequately address new realities... and take into account the interests of the Russian Federation," Mikhail Ulyanov, director of the ministry's department on arms control, told the Interfax news agency.

Russia previously announced it would suspend its participation in the Joint Consultative Group (JCG) on the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe as of March 11.

A statement posted on Russia's Foreign Ministry website on March 10 cited Aleksandr Mazu, the head of the Russian delegation to Vienna talks about military security and arms control.

Mazur said Russia's participation in the advisory group was "meaningless from a political and practical point of view and an unjustifiable waste from a financial-economic [point of view]."

The statement noted Russia already suspended its participation in the Treaty on Conventional Military Forces in Europe in 2007 adding that NATO's expansion plans made it impossible to realize the terms of the treaty.

The statement said that with the decision to suspend its role in the JCG "the suspension of the CFE treaty announced by Russia in 2007 becomes complete."

It added that the move "does not signify its refusal from further dialogue over conventional arms in Europe" and Moscow would rejoin discussions "if and when our partners are ripe for it."

Mazur said Belarus would represent Russia's interests in the JCG at future meetings.