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Germany, OSCE partners push for new arms control deal

November 25, 2016

German Foreign Minister Steinmeier and 13 of his colleagues have called for a relaunch of European arms control. The group said more dialogue is needed to prevent an arms race after Russia's actions in eastern Ukraine.

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Image: picture-alliance/dpa/D. Reinhardt

Frank-Walter Steinmeier along with 13 other European foreign ministers pushed for a new beginning in cooperative arms control agreements on Friday.

They proposed that an "inclusive" debate on the issue should take place during the next Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) meeting in Hamburg in December.

The 14 foreign ministers said they were "deeply concerned about the continuing erosion of the rules-based European security order" in a statement released by the German Foreign Office.

The ministers specifically cited Russia's annexation of Crimea and the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine as situations which have raised doubts over cooperative security in Europe.

"Confronted with the increasingly unstable security situation in Europe, we see an urgent need to re-establish strategic stability, restraint, predictability and verifiable transparency and to reduce military risks," said the ministers who are OSCE members.

"We are convinced that a relaunch of conventional arms control is one important path towards a genuine and effective cooperative security allowing for peace and stability on our continent," the statement read.

Besides Germany, the "like-minded group" included foreign ministers from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

"We call upon all states that share responsibility for Europe's security to join our endeavor and to support a structured dialogue on conventional arms control in Europe," they said.

Earlier on Friday, Steinmeier called for more dialogue with Russia to prevent an arms race in Europe.

"Europe's security is in danger," Steinmeier told German newspaper "Die Welt" in an interview.

"As difficult as ties to Russia may currently be, we need more dialogue, not less."

The joint statement comes ahead of a ministerial level OSCE meeting in Hamburg from December 8 - 9. Russia is part of the 57 member OSCE, the world's largest intergovernmental organization for security.

rs/kl  (AFP, Reuters, KNA)

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