WASHINGTON | President Donald Trump spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin for more than an hour Friday about nuclear weapons agreements, the conflict in Venezuela, North Korea and also briefly about special counsel Robert Mueller’s just completed report on Moscow’s interference in the 2016 election.
“They had a very good discussion. Spoke for a little over an hour,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters at the White House. “They discussed nuclear agreements, both new and extended, with the possibility of having conversations with China on that front as well.”
“There was a discussion about having — extending the current nuclear agreement — as well as discussions about potentially starting a new one that could include China as well,” she said.
She did not specify which treaty. The current strategic nuclear arms treaty, New START, expires in 2021. Sanders also said they discussed trade and how it has increased between the two countries since Trump has come into office. They also talked about Ukraine and North Korea.
“They spoke about North Korea for a good bit of time on the call, and reiterated both the commitment and the need for denuclearization, and the president said several times on this front, as well, the need and importance of Russia stepping up and continuing to help and put pressure on North Korea to denuclearize,” she said. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un traveled to Russia last week to meet with Putin.
She said Putin and Trump talked “very, very briefly” about the Mueller report, but she dodged a question about whether they had discussed Russian election interference, instead blaming the Obama administration for not doing enough to stop it before the 2016 election.
Asked about a meeting at the Pentagon about the situation in Venezuela, Sanders reiterated the U.S. stance that “all options continue to be on the table.” Russia is helping to prop up the embattled government of Nicolas Maduro, which the U.S. wants to see toppled.
“We’re looking at a number of different fronts,” she said about Venezuela. “I don’t have any new announcements or change in direction. We continue to stand with the people of Venezuela and the president is continuing to push for aid to be delivered to those people. Beyond that I don’t have any updates, but all options continue to be on the table. … The president’s going to do what is required, if necessary.”