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Putin meets Bolton amid nuclear treaty exit tensions

US security adviser's meeting with Russia's leader comes days after Trump voiced plan to end major arms control treaty.

Putin meets Bolton

John Bolton, the US national security adviser, has met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. 

Ahead of Tuesday's talks, Washington's warning that it will withdraw from a key nuclear weapons control treaty with Russia was expected to top the agenda.

Putin earlier told Bolton he would like to hold new talks with US President Donald Trump, suggesting they meet next month in Paris where the two leaders are expected to take part in an event commemorating the end of World War I.

Bolton said he believed Trump would look forward to it, adding that it was important for Moscow and Washington to focus on areas where there was a possibility of mutual cooperation.

On his part, Putin said Russia was sometimes surprised by what he said were unprovoked actions taken by the United States against Moscow.

The meeting on Tuesday followed discussions between Bolton and top Russian officials, including Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, in which the national security adviser laid out Trump 's issues with the 31-year-old Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesperson, said Moscow did not want the US to end the INF treaty as there were no prospects for a substitute agreement.

"Ruining the treaty in a situation where even hints at concluding a new one do not exist is something that we do not welcome," he said in comments carried by state news agency TASS.


READ MORE: 5 things to know about threatened US-Russia nuclear weapons deal


"Quitting the agreement first and then discussing the hypothetical, ephemeral possibility of concluding a new treaty is a pretty risky stance," Peskov was quoted as saying.

He also said that Putin and Bolton were expected to discuss "bilateral relations, regional conflicts, Syrian resolution and issues of strategic security".

In an interview with Russian radio station Ekho Moskvy, Bolton on Monday accused Russia of having violated the treaty for the past five years.

He suggested that was a reason why the US wants to withdraw from the treaty, adding that Iran, China and North Korea have also been seeking to possess intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBM).

"Many of our friends and allies are affected by China's IRBM capabilities," Bolton said. China "hopes the United States remains in the INF treaty, and that's perfectly understandable. If I were Chinese, I would say the same thing."

Iran is "continuing to seek deliverable nuclear weapons ... We think they continue to be the world's central banker of international terrorism", Bolton said, according to a transcript.

Nuclear weapons deal

The INF treaty was signed in December 1987 by the then-US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

It resolved a crisis that had begun in the 1980s with the deployment of Soviet SS-20 nuclear-tipped, intermediate-range ballistic missiles targeting Western capitals.

By signing the agreement, Washington and Moscow swore off of possessing, producing or test-flying any ground-launched cruise missiles with a range between 500 and 5,500km.


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