Mon, 16 Sep 2019

The Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin and his U.S. counterpart, Donald Trump, will meet during the Group of 20 (G20) summit in Japan later this week to discuss arms control and the tense situation in the Middle East, including Iran.

Russian presidential aide Yury Ushakov told reporters at a briefing in Moscow on June 26 that the meeting in Osaka will take place in the early afternoon on June 28 and should last about an hour, depending on the leaders themselves.

'As far as the subject of discussions is concerned, a lot depends on the leaders,' Ushakov told reporters, adding that they are also likely to touch upon 'strategic stability' and Ukraine.

There was no immediate confirmation from U.S. officials that a meeting had been agreed upon, though both sides had expressed a strong interest in getting together during the two-day summit.

Moscow and Washington have been at odds over the bilateral 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which eliminated an entire class of missiles.

In February, the United States suspended its participation in the agreement, with Washington and its allies accusing Russia of deploying a missile system that violates the pact.

Russia, which denies the accusation, has since followed suit. Moscow accuses the United States of breaking the accord itself, an allegation rejected by Washington.

The INF Treaty banned the United States and Russia from developing, producing, and deploying ground-launched cruise or ballistic missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.

There is also uncertainty over the fate of a New START treaty, the only bilateral pact limiting deployed strategic nuclear weapons.

The two leaders last met briefly at the G20 summit in Argentina in November 2018, talks the White House called 'informal.' An official meeting had been planned between the two, but Trump canceled because of Russia's seizure of three Ukrainian Navy vessels in the Black Sea.

In an apparent nod to the sharp criticism Trump faced after a lengthy meeting with Putin in Helsinki in 2018 where no other officials were present, Ushakov said the Osaka talks will take place 'in the presence of four or five associates from both parties.'

Putin is also set to have talks in Osaka with outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, according to Ushakov.

Putin is also likely to meet with France's Emmanuel Macron and Germany's Angela Merkel and have a trilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping and India's Narendra Modi.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, Interfax, and dpa

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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