MOSCOW— U.S. President Donald Trump’s national security adviser struck a conciliatory note Tuesday in talks in Moscow, just days after Trump vowed to pull out of a key arms control treaty with Russia.
John Bolton landed in Moscow on Monday less than 48 hours after Trump said that Russia violated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and warned that the U.S. would begin developing such weapons unless Russia and China agree not to possess or develop them.
China wasn’t a party to the pact that was signed in 1987 by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev that prohibits the U.S. and Russia from possessing, producing or test-flying ground-launched nuclear cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers (300 to 3,400 miles.)
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Tuesday lauded Bolton for his two-day visit and said that “even small steps will benefit our relations and help restore trust” between the two countries. He also said that Russia and the U.S. should build up on their cooperation in Syria which helped to prevent major incidents in the sky or on the ground.
Bolton told Shoigu that he was in Moscow to work on Trump’s commitment to improve security cooperation with Russia.
“We certainly share your view that the U.S.-Russian discussions with respect to Syria have been useful, productive and professional, and we hope we can extend those conversations through a number of other ways that you mentioned, and even more,” he said.
In televised comments, neither Bolton nor Shoigu mentioned Trump’s announcement on the INF treaty.
In an interview with the Ekho Moskvy Russian radio station on Monday, Bolton made it clear that Washington has made up its mind about leaving the treaty.
“If Russia says it’s not violating the INF treaty, what are they going to do to change their behavior to comply?” he said.
Bolton also said in the interview that the Trump administration is still considering its position on extending new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) signed by Barack Obama and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in 2011 and which expires in 2021.
Bolton on Monday met with Security Council chairman Nikolai Patrushev and he is expected to hold talks with President Vladimir Putin later on Tuesday.
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