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US, Russian defense chief hold talks to stop accidental war

Phone call aimed at supporting ‘transparency and risk-reduction efforts’ of potential war, says Pentagon.

Top US and Russian defense officials talked via telephone on Wednesday to reduce the potential for an accidental conflict.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke with Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu to “support transparency and risk-reduction efforts” of a potential war, according to Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.

Kirby did not release any more details of the call but it follows the July 28 resumption of the US-Russia Strategic Dialogue in Geneva.

US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed at the meeting to relaunch talks on bilateral strategic stability, focusing on “ensuring predictability,” reducing the risk of nuclear war and setting the stage “for future arms control and risk reduction measures.”

With the US and Russia at odds now on battlefields in Syria and Ukraine, the dialogue also is a chance to review other weapons of war.

Biden said after the June summit that a dialogue could “work on a mechanism that can lead to control new and dangerous and sophisticated weapons that are coming on the scene that reduce times of response, that raise the prospects of accidental war.”

The world’s two largest nuclear powers have been deadlocked for more than a decade on a new arms control agreement.

The current New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or New START, has been in place since 2010.

Two days before it was set to expire in February, it was extended for five years to 2026.

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