National Security & Defense

Trump Promises Talks with Russia, China to End ‘Uncontrollable Arms Race’

President Donald Trump, accompanied by members of his cabinet, attend a working dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping after the G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, December 1, 2018. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters )

President Trump said Monday he expects to enter negotiations with the leaders of Russia and China that would bring a “meaningful halt” to the “major and uncontrollable arms race” between the countries.

The president announced in October that the U.S. would be scrapping the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia, signed in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet head of state Mikhail Gorbachev.

“Russia has violated the agreement. They’ve been violating it for many years,” Trump said at the time. “If Russia’s doing it and if China’s doing it and we’re adhering to the agreement, that’s unacceptable.”

The treaty prevents the U.S. from developing certain nuclear cruise missiles, a limitation not faced by China, which is not a signatory of the treaty.

“In the coming decade the growing conventional military imbalance could well mean that the United States will not be able to uphold its security commitments to allies or reassure partners in the Indo-Pacific in the face of an increasingly assertive China,” wrote Eric Sayers, a special assistant to Admiral Harry Harris, who was the head of the U.S. Pacific Command before his recent retirement.

Last week, Trump abruptly canceled a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin scheduled for the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires over Russia’s recent seizure of Ukrainian Navy ships and sailors.

Meanwhile, Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping are locked in a trade war that has seen the U.S. slap tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods and China levy tariffs on $110 billion of American goods. The two agreed Saturday to a temporary freeze on those tariffs.

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