Putin and Trump discuss arms control issues in phone call

Russian President Vladimir Putin participates in a video call at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia, Thursday, July 23, 2020. The call was linked to the launch of a new production facility at Moscow’s oil refinery. (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump discussed arms control and cooperation in fighting the coronavirus during a phone call between the two leaders Thursday, the Kremlin and White House said.

The presidents “thoroughly considered” various arms control issues “given the special responsibility of Russia and the U.S. for maintaining international peace and security,” the Kremlin said.

According to the White House, Trump reiterated his hope of avoiding an expensive three-way arms race between China, Russia, and the United States and “looked forward to progress on upcoming arms control negotiations in Vienna.”

The Kremlin’s readout of the call said the parties reaffirmed “the timeliness of bilateral consultations” on arms control issues, including the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

The only remaining U.S.-Russia arms control pact expires in February 2021. If it is not extended, the world will be without legal restrictions on American and Russian nuclear weapons for the first time in nearly half a century. Russia has offered to extend the treaty for up to five years, but Trump has rebuffed the offer.

During Thursday’s call, he and Putin “touched upon” the situation with Iran’s nuclear program, the Kremlin said. Trump pulled the U.S. out of a 2015 nuclear pact two years ago, and Iran has been violating the terms of the accord to pressure the remaining signatories to offset U.S. economic sanctions.

The two leaders also talked about Russia and the United States cooperating in their efforts to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Kremlin.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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