Trump, Putin discuss Russia terror attack and arms control – White House

Russian president thanks US counterpart for assistance on potential terrorist plot

President Donald Trump meeting with president Vladimir Putin of Russia in June, 2019. File photograph: Erin Schaff/The New York Times

President Donald Trump meeting with president Vladimir Putin of Russia in June, 2019. File photograph: Erin Schaff/The New York Times

 

US president Donald Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin discussed the state of relations between their two countries in a phone call instigated by Mr Putin, the White House said on Monday.

The official reason for the call, according to both sides, was for Mr Putin to thank Mr Trump for what White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said was “information the United States provided that helped foil a potential holiday terrorist attack in Russia”.

No details were provided, but Russia said on Sunday it had thwarted attacks reportedly planned in St Petersburg thanks to a tip from Washington.

Mr Gidley said both presidents committed to continuing counter-terrorism cooperation between the two countries.

“The presidents also discussed the state of relations between the United States and Russia and future efforts to support effective arms control,” he said, an apparent reference to Mr Trump’s stated desire for a new nuclear arms control deal.

Mr Trump, on a two-week working vacation at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, has longed for strong US relations with Russia and complained that a US probe into whether his 2016 presidential campaign colluded with Russia had stymied him.

He has faced sweeping opposition to warmer ties with Russia from Republican and Democratic lawmakers troubled by Mr Putin’s annexation of Crimea and Russian support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, among other strains.

Some new tensions have arisen between the two countries.

Mr Trump on Thursday warned Russia, Syria and Iran against killing civilians in Syria’s Idlib province.

Syrian and Russian forces have intensified their bombardment of targets in Idlib, the last significant rebel pocket of Syria. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has vowed to recapture it.

In another potential strain, Russia joined with China on a draft proposal to the UN Security Council to seek a lifting of some UN-backed sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

The Trump-Putin call came as the US state department announced secretary of state Mike Pompeo will travel to Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Cyprus from January 3rd-7th. – Reuters