Putin: Ready to meet Trump on arms race, rejoin G8

By Allen Cone  |  June 10, 2018 at 3:50 PM
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June 10 (UPI) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin said Sunday he wants to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump over the concerns of a new arms race and supports another suggestion by Trump to return to the G8.

Putin's comments come as Trump's relations erode with key allies, including lashing out Saturday at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who expressed opposition to Trump's trade policies at the conclusion of the summit in Canada.

"I agree with him, and to have a meaningful discussion, our ministries of foreign affairs and experts should get involved and work closely together, and of course a meeting in person is necessary," Putin told reporters at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit in Qingdao, China.

In April, the White House confirmed the two leaders spoke in a phone call about meeting at the White House "in the 'not-too-distant-future.'

"As soon as the U.S. side is ready, this meeting shall take place, of course, fitting my working schedule. We did not discuss a specific location but many countries offer their support, including Austria," Putin said.

Russia and the United State have touted their nuclear supremacy.

A Russian concept video claims nuclear warheads can reach Florida.

Trump frequently boasts of the United States' nuclear capabilities, warning Russia in April that it should "get ready" for a U.S. missile strike on Syria. Russia backs President Bashar al-Assad and had threatened to shoot down any U.S. missiles fired at the country.

Russia was a member of the G8 until it was suspended in 2014 when it annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine.

Trump suggested Saturday that Russia should return to the group, saying at a news conference in La Baie, Quebec, Canada: "I think it would be an asset to have Russia back in."

Trump said he would not endorse a G7 communique after Trudeau informed president that Canadians "will not be pushed around on trade matters."

He told Trump that Canadians "who stood shoulder to shoulder with American soldiers in far-off lands" do not take lightly the idea that the tariffs are for national security reasons.

"It's kind of insulting," Trudeau said.

"Based on Justin's false statements at his news conference, and the fact that Canada is charging massive Tariffs to our U.S. farmers, workers and companies, I have instructed our U.S. Reps not to endorse the Communique as we look at Tariffs on automobiles flooding the U.S. Market!," the president posted on Twitter.

The president's move to reject the communique contradicted a statement from Trudeau earlier, in which the prime minister announced "we have released a joint communique by all seven countries."

On Sunday, Trump's chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow accused Trudeau of undermining the United States and its allies with comments at the G7 summit.

"It was a betrayal," Kudlow said on CNN's State of the Union.

Also, Peter Navarro, Trump's trade adviser, criticized Trudeau on Fox News Sunday.

"There's a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door," Navarro said. "And that's what bad faith Justin Trudeau did with that stunt press conference. That's what weak, dishonest Justin Trudeau did, and that comes right from Air Force One."

A Canadin official responded in a more measured tone.

"Canada does not believe that ad hominem attacks are a particularly appropriate or useful way to conduct our relations with other countries," Canadian foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters in Ottawa.

On Saturday, U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz, tweeted: "To our allies: bipartisan majorities of Americans remain pro-free trade, pro-globalization & supportive of alliances based on 70 years of shared values. Americans stand with you, even if our president doesn't."

Earlier Saturday, the German government posted on Twitter a photo that shows the leaders and aides. German Chancellor Merkel looks to be in a tense situation with Trump.

Putin said disagreements within the G7 should not be overestimated.

"It is nothing unusual and should be taken calmly, without irony," he said.

"Things happen," Putin added. "If we take the EAEU [the Eurasian Economic Community], we also have debates and it is not so that everyone signs everything right away."

Putin said as far as purchasing power parity, SCO member states have surpassed G7 countries.

"If we calculate... per capita, the seven countries are wealthier, but the size of the SCO economies [combined] is larger. And the population is of course much bigger -- half of the planet," Putin said.

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