WASHINGTON

US President Donald Trump spoke with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin Thursday in a discussion the White House says focused on the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and ongoing arms control disputes.

“President Trump and President Putin discussed efforts to defeat the coronavirus pandemic while continuing to reopen global economies,” spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement.

“President Trump reiterated his hope of avoiding an expensive three-way arms race between China, Russia, and the United States and looked forward to progress on upcoming arms control negotiations in Vienna,” he added.

The nuclear weapons talks between Russia and the US began in June. Trump has repeatedly insisted China also partake in talks to replace the New START treaty, but Beijing has scoffed at the demand.

The pact places curbs on Washington and Moscow’s nuclear arms stockpiles, mandating a cap of 1,550 nuclear warheads on deployed intercontinental missiles, as well as putting limits on the number of launchers and deployed missiles each country is to have.

It is set to expire Feb. 5, 2021.

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