China dismisses suggestion it will join US, Russia in nuclear arms talks

China dismisses suggestion it will join US, Russia in nuclear arms talks
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China on Monday rejected the idea of trilateral nuclear arms negotiations with the U.S. and Russia after President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump pushes back on recent polling data, says internal numbers are 'strongest we've had so far' Illinois state lawmaker apologizes for photos depicting mock assassination of Trump Scaramucci assembling team of former Cabinet members to speak out against Trump MORE said he discussed the possibility last week in a call with Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump on defense over economic jitters Can we do business with Kim Jong Un? Leadership analysis might give clues Russian defense minister: 'We won't do anything' in Europe unless US places missiles there MORE.

Reuters reported that Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Beijing's nuclear arsenal could not be compared to Russia or the U.S., and that it was at the "lowest level" of its national security needs.

“China opposes any country talking out of turn about China on the issue of arms control, and will not take part in any trilateral negotiations on a nuclear disarmament agreement,” Geng said when asked about Trump's comments, according to Reuters.

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Trump was asked last Friday following his phone call with Putin whether the two were discussing extending the Obama-era New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which caps the number of nuclear warheads the United States and Russia can deploy at 1,550 each, among other provisions.

The president said he and Putin had talked about the possibility of including China in negotiations.

"I think we're going to probably start up something very shortly between Russia and ourselves, maybe to start off," he told reporters during a meeting with the Slovak prime minister. "And I think China will be added down the road. We'll be talking about nonproliferation. We'll be talking about a nuclear deal of some kind. And I think it will be a very comprehensive one."

New START is set to expire in two years, but lawmakers have urged Trump to extend it.

Arms control advocates have raised concerns that Trump will let New START expire after he moved to withdraw the U.S. from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty earlier this year after alleging Russia was not complying with it.