Macron defends Russia nuclear treaty’s ‘importance’ in call with Trump

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France’s President Emmanuel Macron gestures as he addresses a press conference on the sidelines of a EU summit at the European Council in Brussels on October 18, 2018. – European Union leaders meet for a summit focused on migration and internal security, after reviewing the state of the Brexit negotiations with Britain. (Photo by JOHN THYS / AFP)

French President Emmanuel Macron stressed the importance of a Cold War-era nuclear weapons treaty during a phone call with Donald Trump, his office said Monday, after the US president announced he was pulling out of the deal.

“The president noted the importance of this treaty, in particular for European security and our strategic stability,” Macron’s office said of the call between the two leaders on Sunday.

Trump said over the weekend that the US would exit the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, known as the INF, which has been in effect with Russia since 1987.

He accuses Moscow of violating the agreement which curbed an arms race between the two countries, defusing a crisis over nuclear-tipped Soviet missiles targeting Western capitals.

Russia, in turn, claims that Washington has not upheld its end of the deal.

US national security advisor John Bolton was to meet with Russian officials for two days of talks starting Monday, a visit announced before Trump’s statement on Saturday.

Russia has denounced Trump’s move, the latest to strain ties between the two countries.

The disputes come ahead of what is expected to be the second summit between Trump and Putin this year, though no date has yet been set.

The Trump administration has complained specifically about Moscow’s deployment of Novator 9M729 missiles, which Washington says fall under the INF’s ban on missiles that can travel distances of 310 to 3,400 miles (500 to 5,500 kilometres).