U.S. President Donald Trump proposed a meeting on arms control during a phone call Tuesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In a statement at the White House, Trump discussed his remarks to the newly re-elected Russian leader and the possibility of a future meeting centered around the current “arms race.”
“I had a call with President Putin and congratulated him on the victory, his electoral victory. The call had to do also with the fact that we will probably get together in the not too distant future so that we can discuss arms, we can discuss the arms race,” Trump said.
Trump: “I had a call with President Putin and congratulated him on the victory, his electoral victory…we had a very good call and I suspect that we’ll probably be meeting in the not too distant future to discuss the arms race” pic.twitter.com/tLRc7eNV5F
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) March 20, 2018
Trump pointed to Putin’s post-election comment, in which the Russian president said no plans existed to “accelerate an arms race,” before vowing to uphold the United States’ military superiority.
“As you know he made a statement that being in an arms race is not a great thing, that was right after the election, one of the first statements he made,” Trump said. “We are spending $700 billion this year on our military and a lot of it is that we are going to remain stronger than any other nation in the world by far.”
Further describing the arms race as “getting out of control,” Trump also said the potential meeting would focus on the current conflicts in Ukraine and Syria and North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
A readout of the Tuesday phone call released by the Kremlin described the discussion as “oriented toward overcoming the problems” between the U.S. and Russia.
“The leaders said they would work to develop practical cooperation in various directions, including in questions of assuring strategic stability and fighting international terrorism,” the Kremlin said. “Among other things, the need to coordinate efforts to limit an arms race was discussed.”
The proposal for a face-to-face follows Russia’s annual State of the Union address earlier this month in which Putin introduced new defense measures including a nuclear-powered cruise missile allegedly capable of reaching “any point in the world.”
While the Russian president claims the weapon was successfully tested last year, Pentagon officials speaking with Fox News said the missile recently crashed during a test in the Arctic.
Trump is said to have condemned Putin’s announcement as “irresponsible” in a phone call with UK Prime Minister Theresa May shortly after.
“The leaders agreed that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent statements on nuclear weapons development were irresponsible,” a White House readout said.
The Tuesday phone call comes amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Russia.
The Trump administration issued new sanctions on Russia this month related to the 2016 election and hacks against critical U.S. infrastructure. The White House also accused the Kremlin of being behind the poisoning of a Russian double agent in Britain.
The White House is currently in the process of releasing its own readout for the call between the two leaders.
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