President TrumpDonald John Trump North Korea unveils large ICBM at military parade Trump is no longer considered a risk to transmit COVID-19, doctor says New Trump campaign announcement features Fauci MORE hopes to conclude a last-minute nuclear weapons deal with the Russian president Vladimir Putin before the November 3 elections, Axios reported on Sunday.
For the past six months, the United States and Russia have been negotiating a nuclear deal with both presidents talking to each other on the phone. But representatives from both countries were unable to make progress in the talks in Vienna until recently.
US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien and Russia’s Nikolai Patrushev met in Geneva on October 2, and the success of the meeting prompted Trump’s arms control envoy Marshall Billingslea to do a last minute trip to Helsinki and tailor another trip to Asia.
A source familiar with the discussions said the Axios Trump administration thinks it has a principled agreement that has gained the approval of Putin and Patrushev. Officials told the news agency they think the deal could be completed within a week once talks resume.
But Sergei Ryabkov, Russian deputy foreign minister, disagrees, saying that “there are still huge differences in approaches, including the core elements of such an agreement”.
The National Security Council did not immediately return a request for comment.
Details of the negotiations were limited to certain officials, with one administration official telling Axios that only the highest levels of the National Security Council and the State Department as well as some members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a national security group are aware of the discussions.
In addition to the upcoming elections, the Trump administration also hopes to meet the February 5 deadline as it is the deadline for the New START, the current nuclear weapons deal between Russia and the United States.
Putin is a democratic candidate Joe BidenJoe Biden Democratic Poll Shows Upside Down Neck Race in Florida House District Nebraska District Could Be Key for Biden in November Bringing Blacks Home MORE they both expressed interest in extending the agreement for five years.
But Trump officials want to change the deal, made during the Obama administration, to ensure both sides stop building stocks of nuclear warheads. The US also wants Russia to engage in talks on a nuclear weapons deal that includes China.
Billingslea said the US will ask for more in the deal if Russia refuses to make one before the election and Trump is re-elected.
Rose Gottemoeller, the US chief negotiator for New START, said a deal “could be done by tomorrow,” according to Axios.
“Trump has made it clear that he wants the deal closed, and I think Putin would very much like to sign an agreement with President Trump,” he said.