Russian lawmakers vote to abandon overflight treaty

Russian lawmakers vote to abandon overflight treaty

Moscow: The Russian parliament's lower house voted Wednesday to withdraw from an international treaty allowing surveillance flights over military facilities following the US departure from the pact.

The Russian exit from the Open Skies Treaty is yet to be endorsed by the upper house of parliament and needs to be signed by President Vladimir Putin to take effect.

Moscow has signalled its readiness to reverse the withdrawal procedure and stay in the treaty if the U.S. returns to the agreement.

The withdrawal vote comes hours before U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov were to hold their first meeting on the sidelines of a gathering of top diplomats from the Arctic countries in Reykjavik, Iceland.

They are expected to focus on setting the stage for a planned summit next month between U.S. President Joe Biden and Putin.

The Open Skies Treaty was intended to build trust between Russia and the West by allowing the accord's more than three dozen signatories to conduct reconnaissance flights over each other's territories to collect information about military forces and activities

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