Trump talks coronavirus, arms control in phone call with Putin

President Trump spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone on Thursday, discussing the novel coronavirus, arms control negotiations and other matters.

The call marked Trump’s first phone conversation with Putin since last month, and comes days after the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada accused Moscow of attempting to hack coronavirus vaccine research.

The phone call is also Trump’s first with Putin since the explosive New York Times report about a U.S. intelligence assessment that Russia offered bounties to Taliban insurgents for launching attacks against U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The White House, which has disputed elements of the Times’s account, made no mention of either issue coming up during the call.

“President Trump and President Putin discussed efforts to defeat the coronavirus pandemic while continuing to reopen global economies,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement Thursday afternoon.

“The two leaders also discussed critical bilateral and global issues. President 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,” Deere said.

The Kremlin said in a statement that the two leaders discussed “strategic stability and arms control,” Iran’s nuclear program, the coronavirus and economic cooperation between Washington and Moscow.

U.S. and Russian officials held arms control talks in Vienna in June on a proposed trilateral treaty involving the new two nations and China, though Beijing has thus far rejected calls to join the negotiations. The Trump administration is pushing for a new agreement to replace the New START Treaty, which is set to expire in February.

Trump last spoke to Putin in early June about plans for this year’s Group of 7 (G-7) summit set to take place in the U.S. Trump has called for Russia to be invited to the summit, though other G-7 leaders have rejected the idea.

Trump postponed the meeting until at least September due to the coronavirus, and it remains uncertain what shape it will ultimately take.

Tags Arms control Coronavirus Donald Trump G7 Group of Seven New York Times Russia russian bounties Vladimir Putin

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