Trump, Putin remember VE Day in phone call, discuss arms control, pandemic

The US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed progress in combating the coronavirus pandemic along with arms control issues and oil prices in a phone call on Thursday, news wires reported, citing statements from the White House and the Kremlin.

The White House said Trump spoke with Putin “to commemorate and reflect upon the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day.” The Kremlin noted in its readout of the call that the two leaders exchanged greetings ahead of the 75th anniversary of the Nazi defeat in World War II, emphasizing “the historic significance of the WWII alliance between our peoples that allowed (us) to defeat the common enemy.” It said that if Russia and the US follow the spirit of their wartime alliance they could score successes in dealing with such issues as ensuring strategic stability, fighting terrorism, settling regional conflicts and combating epidemics.

The US President Donald Trump stressed his desire for arms control that includes both Russia and China, the White House said. “President Trump reaffirmed that the United States is committed to effective arms control that includes not only Russia, but also China, and looks forward to future discussions to avoid a costly arms race,” the White House said.

Trump has repeatedly argued - so far to no avail - for China to join the US and Russia in talks on an arms control accord to replace the 2010 New START treaty between Washington and Moscow that expires in February.

New START restricted the United States and Russia to deploying no more than 1,550 nuclear warheads, the lowest level in decades, and limited the land- and submarine-based missiles and bombers that deliver them. China, estimated to have about 300 nuclear weapons, has repeatedly rejected Trump’s proposal, arguing its nuclear force is defensive and poses no threat.

Trump-Putin call also covered working to defeat the new coronavirus outbreak, the White House said, with Trump pointing out the US stood ready to help any country fighting the disease, including Russia.

Trump later told reporters Putin had accepted his offer to provide ventilators to help treat people with the potentially deadly COVID-19 respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, adding Russia is having a hard time with the disease. In its own statement, the Kremlin said “it was proposed by the American side to send a cargo of medical equipment to Russia” but provided no further details.

The Kremlin also said that Trump and Putin also discussed the situation in the global oil market. It noted the positive effect of the OPEC+ agreement reached thanks to coordinated efforts by the US and Russian presidents that helped stabilize oil prices.

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