Top Russian officials hold crucial talks with US NSA over nuclear force treaty

Top Russian officials hold crucial talks with US NSA over nuclear force treaty

ISLAMABAD – Top Russian officials on Monday told Donald Trump s national security advisor that Moscow is ready to cooperate with Washington over a Cold War-era nuclear treaty and that abandoning the key agreement would put the world in danger.

National security advisor John Bolton is expected to discuss US President Trump s plan to jettison the three-decade-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.

On Monday, Bolton discussed the fate of the treaty with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and also spent "nearly five hours" in talks with Russian Security Council chief Nikolai Patrushev, a spokesman told AFP.

The collapse of the treaty would deal a "serious blow to the entire international legal system of non-proliferation and arms control," the Security Council said in a statement after Patrushev and Bolton met.

The Russian Security Council stressed the meeting s "constructive and business-like manner" and said Moscow is ready to work together with the United State to salvage the agreement.

Patrushev and Bolton also discussed issues related to a possible extension by five years of the New START arms control treaty, which expires in 2021.

Later Monday Lavrov and Bolton met for a "working dinner", a Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman said.

Russia s top diplomat said ahead of the meeting that he was waiting to hear Bolton s "official explanation" regarding Trump s intentions, adding that the US had not yet initiated the procedure for exiting the treaty. - APP/AFP