(Adds comments from White House official, background)
WASHINGTON, Nov 14 (Reuters) – Director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency William Burns is in Ankara for talks with his Russian intelligence counterpart to deliver a message about the consequences of any use of weapons nuclear weapons by Russia, a White House official said Monday.
“He’s not conducting any negotiations. He’s not discussing the settlement of the war in Ukraine,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, adding that Burns would also raise the cases of Americans detained in Russia.
US-Russian contact in Turkey was first reported by Russian newspaper Kommersant. He quoted an unidentified source as saying Sergei Naryshkin, head of Russia’s foreign intelligence service SVR, 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. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threats to use nuclear weapons in the war in Ukraine have fueled fears of an escalation.
“We have been very open that we have channels to communicate with Russia on risk management, particularly nuclear risk and risks to strategic stability,” the White House official said, adding that Ukraine had been informed of the trip in advance.
News emerged this month that US national security adviser Jake Sullivan had engaged in confidential talks with senior Russian officials, with the aim of reducing the risk of a wider war against Ukraine.
The State Department also said the two sides were to meet soon and discuss resuming inspections under the new START nuclear arms reduction treaty that have been on hold since before Russia invaded. (Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Will Dunham and Toby Chopra)