MOSCOW • Russian President Vladimir Putin said yesterday that his US counterpart Donald Trump has told him he does not want a costly arms race, urging the American leader to take "practical" steps to prevent a key nuclear pact from lapsing in 2021.
"In my last conversation with President Trump, I felt some optimism because Donald told me he is also worried about it, he understands how much money the US and other countries spend on rearmament and that this money could be devoted to other purposes," Mr Putin said of his phone call last month to the US President.
"I agree totally with him."
At the same time, the Russian leader condemned the US for its February pullout from a 1987 treaty that banned intermediate-range missiles in Europe and warned against the expiration of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (Start), which restricts the size of the US and Russian nuclear arsenals.
Russia has said it is ready to hold talks on extending New Start for another five years, while the Trump administration says it is interested in only a broader pact that includes China, which has rejected the proposal.
On Wednesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Mr Putin attended a gathering marking the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
The gathering was held after Mr Xi and Mr Putin signed a joint statement to upgrade bilateral relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era.
Addressing the audience at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, Mr Putin said the bilateral relationship has gone through extraordinary development over the past seven decades. With mutual support and assistance, the two countries have promoted their relations to an unprecedentedly high level, he said.
Mr Xi said the two countries are embracing yet another historic moment in bilateral relations, noting that the past 70 years have proven that China and Russia are good neighbours and true partners.
Russia opened its showcase annual economic forum yesterday, seeking to reassure foreign investors who have been shaken by recent arrests and slowing growth.
Dubbed the Russian Davos when the economy was booming, the St Petersburg International Economic Forum this year comes amid an ongoing crisis with the West.
In a sign of Moscow's commercial and political pivot to the East, the guest of honour at the forum is Mr Xi, who will speak alongside his host and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres today.