Lavrov Offers U.S. Talks on Extending Arms Accord: Munich Update

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. Vice President Mike Pence addresses the Munich Security Conference alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Chinese Politburo member Yang Jiechi and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Key Points:

  • Pence urges NATO countries to stop buying arms from adversaries
  • Pence demands EU withdraw from Iran deal
  • EU should recognize Guaido as Venezuelan leader, Pence says

Lavrov Seeks Talks on Arms Control (1:21 p.m.)

Lavrov says the Trump administration hasn’t yet agreed to hold any “meaningful consultations” on START arms treaty but Russia will continue to press U.S. on the issue.

Lavrov Offers U.S. Talks on Extending Arms Accord: Munich Update

Under the nuclear arms accord signed in 2010, the Russian and U.S. arsenals are restricted to no more than 1,550 deployed strategic warheads on no more than 700 deployed strategic missiles and bombers. It expires in 2021 and Russia has proposed extending it to 2026.

The U.S. earlier this month pulled out of another landmark arms control treaty, the INF, which banned deploying short and intermediate-range missiles on land, accusing Russia of violating it. Russia withdrew from the 1987 accord in response.

Yang Pushes Back on Pence Claims of Huawei Hacking (1:01 p.m.)

Yang brushed off Pence’s claim that the Chinese state demands access to data passing across Huawei equipment and played up the company’s collaboration with European authorities.

"Chinese law doesn’t require companies to install backdoors or collect intelligence," he said. “I hope some Americans would have a little more confidence in themselves and be a little bit more respectful to other people in the so-called old world."

Yang Says China Switching to High-Quality Growth (12:48 a.m.)

Yang seeks to offer reassurance about the slowing Chinese economy, arguing that growth is going to be slower but better.

"China has enough resilience and huge potential to keep the economy on a sound track for a long time," he said.

He said that cooperation with China will also help the EU economy, pointing to the rail freight lines that will be part of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Yang Says China Wants to Find Win-Win Solutions (12:32 p.m.)

Yang is positioning China as a defender of the global multilateral system alongside Angela Merkel, and taking a couple of jabs at Donald Trump.

He criticized the "outdated mentality of zero-sum games and winner-takes-all" -- that’s a frequent characterization of the U.S. president’s approach among his critics.

"China remains a firm supporter of European integration," Yang said.

Yang Says China Is Committed to U.S. Relationship (12:21 p.m.)

Late change in the program means Pence, Yang and Lavrov are speaking one after another, rather than sitting for a discussion together, so there’s much less chance of fireworks.

Yang, who’s the first career diplomat ever to make it onto the Chinese politburo, is setting out a vision of China within the multilateral framework that Merkel defended earlier, and that Pence’s speech attacked.

Yang says China wants "coordination, cooperation and stability" in relations with the U.S. and points to "important progress" in recent talks.

Pence Says Data Is at Risk From Huawei Gear (12:12 p.m.)

Pence warned allies to reject China’s Huawei, since "Chinese law requires them to provide Beijing’s vast security apparatus with access to any data that touches their networks or equipment." Allies must protect critical telecoms infrastructure, he said.

Pence Says EU Should Recognize Guaido in Venezuela (12:02 p.m.)

Pence tells a story of visiting Venezuelan refugees in Brazil last year who were struggling to feed their children and said another 2 million people will leave this year unless the situation improves.

"Nicolas Maduro is a dictator with no legitimate claim to power, and Nicolas Maduro must go," he said.

Pence Says Iran Is Advocating Another Holocaust (11:52 a.m.)

Pence tied his demand for European nations to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal to his visit to Auschwitz on Friday.

"One lesson of that dark chapter of human history is that when authoritarian regimes breathe out vile anti-Semitic hatred and threats of violence, we must take them at their word," he said. "The time has come for our European partners to stop undermining U.S. sanctions against this murderous revolutionary regime."

He said that by withdrawing from the accord will help bring security and freedom to the Iranian people.

Pence Says NATO Shouldn’t Buy Arms From East (11:45 a.m.)

Pence repeats his call for NATO members to boost defense spending -- and urges them to channel arms purchases to western allies.

"We have also made it clear that we will not stand idly by while NATO allies purchase weapons from our adversaries," Pence said. "We cannot ensure the defense of the West if our allies grow dependent on the East."


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