President Trump is urging Russian President Vladimir Putin to seal the deal on a new nuclear pact ahead of schedule and, importantly, ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November.
As Axios reports, the two world leaders have been in discussions for months over the new nuclear agreement and even sent representatives to Vienna to negotiate further. But the talks have stalled.
From the report:
Trump and Putin have discussed arms control in a string of phone calls over the last six months, and they’ve dispatched envoys to negotiate in Vienna. But talks appeared stalled until just a few days ago.
- National security adviser Robert O’Brien and his Russian counterpart, Nikolai Patrushev, met in Geneva on Oct. 2.
- The meeting created enough momentum that Trump’s arms control envoy, Marshall Billingslea, and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Ryabkov, made last-minute plans to travel to Helsinki — with Billingslea even cutting short a trip to Asia.
- On Friday, a source familiar with the discussions said the Trump administration believed it now had an agreement in principle, blessed by Putin and Patrushev, that could be finalized within a week once negotiations resume in earnest.
- But Ryabkov countered on Saturday that “there are still huge differences in approaches, including to the central elements of such an agreement.” Talk of an imminent deal is hardly “realistic,” he said.
President Trump is being pressured to form a new agreement after he said he did not wish to continue the Obama-era agreement, START.
The current agreement is set to expire in February of next year and Putin has said he would agree to a five-year extension of the agreement. Joe Biden has said he would as well.
But the agreement is not good enough, Trump contends, as he wants a freeze on current nuclear stockpiles on both countries and a broader agreement to eventually include China.
Axios reports Putin does not want China to be pressured to change their current nuclear situation: “Russia has rejected anything that explicitly pressures China, so the U.S. is trying to find language both sides can live with.”
According to the report, the negotiations are very close as chief U.S. negotiator Rose Gottemoeller said a deal “could be done tomorrow.”
“Trump has clearly conveyed that he wants the deal to be done, and I think Putin would very much like to sign a deal with President Trump,” she added.