Putin consults Security Council before talking to Trump

Associated Press

Moscow — Russian President Vladimir Putin conferred with his top officials Friday about relations with Washington a day before a scheduled call with U.S. President Donald Trump.

Trump’s senior adviser, Kellyanne Conway, said on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” Friday that U.S. sanctions against Russia and other issues would be on the table during his conversation with Putin set for Saturday.

Conway also said Trump will be receptive if the Russian leader wants to have a serious conversation about how to defeat Islamic extremists.

Ahead of the call, Putin chaired a meeting of his Security Council to discuss U.S.-Russian relations, the Kremlin said.

Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the two presidents are expected to “exchange views about main parameters of current bilateral relations.” They last spoke when Putin congratulated Trump shortly after his election victory.

Peskov wouldn’t elaborate on what specific issues could be discussed and wouldn’t say if the two leaders would use the call to agree on an in-person meeting.

The Kremlin has applauded Trump’s promises to mend ties with Moscow, which have been badly strained by the Ukrainian crisis, the war in Syria and allegations of Russian meddling in the U.S. elections.

Barack Obama’s administration and the European Union slapped Moscow with sanctions for its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and support for a pro-Russia insurgency in eastern Ukraine.

The restrictions have limited Russian companies’ access to international financial markets and barred key technology transfers, helping drive the Russian economy into recession. Russia has responded by banning imports of most Western agricultural products.

The Kremlin has warned that rebuilding ravaged ties will take time, but many in Russia hope there will be an easing of the tensions unseen since the Cold War.

“Relations between the great powers have been going from bad to worse for several years now,” former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev said in an article published in Time magazine. “The advocates for arms buildup and the military-industrial complex are rubbing their hands. We need to resume political dialogue.”

Warning that “the nuclear threat once again seems real,” Gorbachev urged Trump and Putin to initiate a United Nations Security Council resolution stating that “nuclear war is unacceptable and must never be fought.”

He emphasized that the two leaders bear a special responsibility as “presidents of two nations that hold over 90% of the world’s nuclear arsenals.”