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Bolton Rejects Russian Entreaties to Stay in Nuclear Treaty

MOSCOW — Despite warnings that withdrawal could lead to a new nuclear arms race, the United States national security adviser rejected Russian entreaties on Tuesday to remain committed to a disarmament treaty.

The adviser, John R. Bolton, suggested after a meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin and other Russian officials that little progress had been made in resolving President Trump’s complaint that Russia has reneged on the pact, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces, or I.N.F., Treaty.

Mr. Trump has said he plans to pull out of the treaty because Russia is violating it and China is not a signatory. President Ronald Reagan and the Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev signed the treaty in 1987, eliminating hundreds of nuclear missiles in Europe.

“It is the American position that Russia is in violation,” Mr. Bolton said at a news conference in response to a question about the treaty. “It is Russia’s position that they’re not in violation. So one has to ask, ‘How do you convince the Russians to come back into compliance with obligations they don’t think they’re violating?’”

Mr. Bolton has said the United States will now consult with its allies in Europe and Asia. It remained possible that the administration’s decision was not final. However, Mr. Bolton said Tuesday after the meetings in Moscow that a formal notice of withdrawal “will be filed in due course.”

Withdrawal will not harm security, he said, citing his experience as a negotiator when the Bush administration in 2001 pulled out of another disarmament accord, the Anti-Ballistic Missile, or A.B.M, Treaty.

At the time, he said, observers were alarmed by the move. He joked that journalists had a button on their keyboards that when pressed typed the boilerplate line, “the cornerstone of international stability,” in reference to the A.B.M. Treaty.

But scrapping that treaty, he said, did not unravel the nuclear disarmament architecture between the United States and Russia.

Mr. Bolton pointed to what he called the I.N.F. Treaty’s obsolescence. “There’s a new strategic reality out there,” he said. “This was a Cold War bilateral ballistic missile-related treaty, in a multipolar ballistic missile world.”

Earlier Tuesday, Mr. Putin told Mr. Bolton that he was open to another meeting with President Trump.

“Of course, it would be useful to continue the direct dialogue with the president of the United States,” Mr. Putin said, and suggested meeting at an international gathering scheduled in Paris on Nov. 11 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

Mr. Bolton responded that Mr. Trump “would look forward to meeting with him in Paris.”

In Washington, the White House attempted to stay on message after Mr. Bolton made his comments in Moscow.

“Putin invited the president to meet in Paris,” the White House said in a statement in response to an inquiry about the terms of the visit. “On behalf of the president, Bolton accepted.”

But at the same time the White House issued the response, Mr. Trump appeared to hedge. He said that he “may” meet with Mr. Putin when he travels to Paris and that his advisers were still sorting out the particulars.

“I think something good could come out of that,” Mr. Trump said.

The two leaders’ last meeting, held in Helsinki, Finland, in July with only interpreters present, touched off bipartisan criticism in Washington after Mr. Trump suggested at a news conference that he had accepted Mr. Putin’s denials of election interference despite the findings of American intelligence agencies. Mr. Trump later said he had misspoken.

Mr. Bolton said he had agreed to renew some diplomatic and business contacts broken off by the United States to protest Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine in 2014, something the Russians have been pushing for to ease their international isolation.

The United States, he said, would resume regular meetings on fighting terrorism at the level of a deputy secretary of state and a deputy minister of foreign affairs. “Counterterrorism dialogue we view as very important,” he said.

Mr. Trump had suggested during his campaign that the United States should mend relations with Russia to fight Islamist terrorism. Mr. Bolton said the countries would also arrange a conference for businesses leaders early next year

As long ago as 2007, Mr. Putin said the I.N.F. Treaty no longer served Russia’s interests, and Russian analysts said the country might scrap it in response to the earlier American abandonment of the antimissile agreement.

Instead, Russia has all but openly violated the deal by deploying what American officials say is a prohibited missile.

In his opening remarks to Mr. Bolton on Tuesday, Mr. Putin joked that the olive branches seemed missing from the eagle’s talon on the Great Seal of the United States.

“As I recall, there is a bald eagle picture,” Mr. Putin said. “It holds 13 arrows in one talon and an olive branch in the other as a symbol of peaceful policy, a branch with 13 olives. My question: Has your eagle already eaten all the olives leaving only the arrows?”

Source: NYT > World

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