Trump adviser John Bolton headed to Russia amid reports US is quitting nuclear deal

Bolton (above) announced the visit to Moscow in a tweet. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US National Security Adviser John Bolton will meet Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Saturday (Oct 20), amid reports that Washington will tell Russia it plans to quit a landmark nuclear weapons treaty.

Bolton, who will also meet Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, announced the visit to Moscow in a tweet, saying he would "continue discussions that began in Helsinki", referring to a summit between Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin in July.

The New York Times said that the Trump administration plans to inform Russian leaders in the coming days that it is preparing to leave the three-decade-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, known as the INF.

The newspaper said the US accuses Russia of violating the deal, signed in 1987 by Ronald Reagan, by deploying tactical nuclear weapons to intimidate former Soviet satellite states that are now close to the West.

Relations between the United States and Russia are under deep strain from accusations that Moscow meddled in the 2016 presidential election, as well as tension over Russian support for the Syrian government in the country's civil war, and the conflict in Ukraine.

However, Washington is looking for support from Moscow in finding resolutions to the Syria war and putting pressure on both Iran and North Korea.

No new summit between Trump and Putin has been announced, but both leaders will be in Paris on Nov 11 to attend commemorations marking the end of World War I.

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