CIA chief in Ankara meeting with Russian counterpart, U.S. official says

CIA Director William Burns speaks during a House Intelligence Committee hearing on worldwide threats in Washington, D.C., U.S., April 15, 2021. Al Drago/Pool via REUTERS

WASHINGTON, Nov 14 (Reuters) - U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns is in Ankara to speak with his Russian intelligence counterpart to convey a message on consequences of any use of nuclear weapons by Russia, a White House official said on Monday.

"He is not conducting negotiations of any kind. He is not discussing settlement of the war in Ukraine," said the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, adding that Burns will also raise the cases of detained Americans in Russia.

The U.S.-Russian contact in Turkey was first reported by Russia's Kommersant newspaper. It cited an unidentified source as saying that Sergei Naryshkin, head of Russia's SVR foreign intelligence service, would attend the talks.

Ties between Washington and Moscow have fallen to their worst in decades since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in February. Threats by Russian President Vladimir Putin to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine war have fueled worries about escalation.

"We have been very open about the fact that we have channels to communicate with Russia on managing risk, especially nuclear risk and risks to strategic stability," the White House official said, adding that Ukraine was briefed on the trip in advance.

News emerged this month that U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan has engaged in confidential talks with senior Russian officials, aimed at lowering the risk of a broader war over Ukraine.

The State Department also said the two sides were expected to meet soon and discuss resuming inspections under the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty that have been paused since before Russia's invasion.

Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Will Dunham and Toby Chopra

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