US says Russia's choice to snub nuclear talks “counter-productive”

WASHINGTON, March 31 (KUNA) — The US has described Russia’s plans not to attend a Nuclear Security Summit, scheduled in Washington DC on Friday, as “counterproductive.” “Nobody benefits from a lack or downgrading of collaboration on issues of nuclear security,” White House Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes told reporters in a briefing on Thursday.
“This is an area where we share an interest,” he said, mentioning that both nations have had “close cooperation” on nuclear security over recent years, particularly since the end of the Cold War, he added a day ahead of the summit.
Rhodes did mention that Russia has “continued to cooperate” on the matter, however adding that, “it’s important that they be a part of the solution here, and they only isolate themselves by not attending summits like this.” Separately, the US and Russia reiterated in talks that their military aircraft would not to cross paths in Syria after reaffirming their “flight safety” deal, the Pentagon said on Thursday.
This came during a video conference meeting between Pentagon and Russian Ministry of Defence officials which discussed the ongoing adherence to the US-Russia memorandum of understanding (MOU) on flight safety over Syrian airspace, revealed a US Department of Defence statement.
“The two sides committed to adhering to the MoU on flight safety as long as each side is operating in Syria,” the statement added, mentioning that the “conversation was constructive.” The MoU came into effect after Russia’s decision to take part in aerial operations in Syria last year against what it described as “terrorist” targets.
Despite repeatedly accusing the Kremlin of targeting Syrian rebels who oppose the regime, the US continues to coordinate with the Russians to stay out of each others’ flight paths.
Both the US and Russia continue to launch airstrikes in Syria, as they are not part of the Cessation of Hostilities agreement that went into effect on February 27. (end)