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Pentagon: Trump, Mattis 'completely aligned' on Russia arms treaty withdrawal

Pentagon: Trump, Mattis 'completely aligned' on Russia arms treaty withdrawal
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The Pentagon on Monday said Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Pentagon watchdog to probe extremism in US military | FBI chief warns of 'online chatter' ahead of inauguration | House conservative bloc opposes Austin waiver Conservative caucus opposes waiver for Biden's Pentagon pick Overnight Defense: National Guard boosts DC presence ahead of inauguration | Lawmakers demand probes into troops' role in Capitol riot | Financial disclosures released for Biden Pentagon nominee MORE and President TrumpDonald TrumpCIA chief threatened to resign over push to install Trump loyalist as deputy: report Azar in departure letter says Capitol riot threatens to 'tarnish' administration's accomplishments Justice Dept. argues Trump should get immunity from rape accuser's lawsuit MORE are “completely aligned” on the commander in chief’s abrupt decision to announce that the country will pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) with Russia.

“Secretary Mattis and the president talk a broad range of issues continuously and their position on this particular issue is aligned,” Col. Rob Manning told reporters at the Pentagon.

Mattis — who was traveling in Asia last week and returned Saturday — was reportedly blindsided by Trump’s announcement.

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Pressed on whether Trump had discussed his decision with Mattis directly beforehand, Manning would only say that “the secretary is always accessible, obviously, and he remains in close contact with the president.”

Trump on Saturday night told reporters he wanted to pull out of the three-decade-old treaty with Russia. The pact, established in 1987 during the Reagan administration, bans the U.S. and Russia from possessing or testing land-based missiles with a range of 310 to 3,420 miles, but allows for research.

U.S. officials have said Russia is in violation of the treaty, a charge Russia denies.

Speaking to reporters after a rally in Nevada, Trump said Russia has been in violation of the INF Treaty “for many years.”

“We’re going to terminate the agreement and we’re going to pull out,” Trump said.

“We’ll have to develop those weapons,” he added.

Mattis earlier this month called Russia’s violation of the treaty “untenable,” but indicated that the U.S. would press Moscow to comply, not pull out altogether.

“Russia must return to compliance with the INF Treaty or the U.S. will need to respond to its cavalier disregard of the treaty’s specific limits,” Mattis said. “The United States is reviewing options in our diplomacy and defense posture to do just that in concert with our allies, as always.”