NATO to hold emergency meeting on US withdrawal from Open Skies treaty

The ambassadors of the member countries of NATO were summoned on Friday afternoon for an emergency meeting after the announcement of the US withdrawal from the Open Skies treaty, news wires reported, citing diplomacy sources. 

The US president Donald Trump announced the move on Thursday, blaming Russia for his decision. "Russia has not respected the treaty," he said. "So as long as they don't respect it, we will withdraw," Trump added.

Open Skies accord, signed by 35 countries, makes it possible to verify military movements and the arms limitation measures of the signatory countries by means of surveillance flights. The treaty, proposed by US President Dwight Eisenhower in 1955, was signed in 1992 and took effect in 2002.

The withdrawal from the United States should be effective in six months, according the observers. Donald Trump did not shut the door on a renegotiation of the agreement. "I think what is going to happen is that we are going to withdraw and they are going to come back and ask to negotiate an agreement," he said. "We have had very good relations recently with Russia."

The US decision was criticized within the Alliance. "All the allies had asked the United States to remain a party to this treaty", a diplomatic source said.

Germany on Thursday called on the US to "reconsider" its decision. In a statement, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also asked Russia to comply fully with its obligations. "With our partners, we will invest so that the American government reconsider its decision," Maas said, noting that France, Poland and the UK had repeatedly explained to Washington that the "difficulties of 'application of the treaty on the side of Russia in recent years' did not 'justify' a withdrawal.

Trump’s decision for Open skies also deepens doubts about whether Washington will seek to extend the 2010 New START accord, which imposes the last remaining limits on US and Russian deployments of strategic nuclear arms to no more than 1,550 each. It expires in February.Trump has repeatedly called for China to join the United States and Russia in talks on an arms control accord to replace New START. China, estimated to have about 300 nuclear weapons, has repeatedly rejected Trump's proposal. White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien told Fox News Channel later on Thursday that he did not expect the United States to leave the New START accord.


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