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Trump, Putin discuss nuclear accord, Venezuela, Mueller report, says White House

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S. President Donald Trump during a photo session of world leaders on the closing day of the 25th APEC Summit on Nov. 11, 2017 in Da Nang, Vietnam. (Metzel Mikhail/TASS/Zuma Press/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

U.S. President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin have addressed a wide range of topics during their first contact since the Group of 20 summit in Argentina last year.

Trump said in two tweets that he and Putin”had a long and very good conversation” by telephone on May 3.

Trump tweeted that they discussed trade, Venezuela, Ukraine, North Korea, nuclear arms control, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on his investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, which Trump called the “Russian Hoax.”

“Very productive talk!” Trump said.

Earlier, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the two leaders discussed a potential new multilateral atomic treaty between the United States, Russia, and China or an extension of the current U.S.-Russia strategic nuclear accord.

Russia and the United States both withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty earlier this year, while the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) agreement, signed by former U.S. and Russian presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev in April 2010, will expire in 2021.

China isn’t a party to either agreement.

Putin held his first face-to-face talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un late last month, saying an agreement with Pyongyang over its nuclear weapons would not be possible “without international guarantees” and that it was unlikely that “any agreements between two countries will be enough.”

Sanders said Putin and Trump spoke for about an hour, while Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the phone call, which was held at the initiative of the United States, lasted for almost an hour and a half.

Sanders also repeated the U.S. administration’s position that “all options continue to be on the table” regarding Venezuela, where Russia is backing embattled President Nicolas Maduro, while the United States has thrown its support behind Juan Guaido, who leads the opposition-controlled National Assembly and declared himself interim president in January.

“The president is going to do what is required, if necessary,” she said.

Trump and Putin, who last had an informal discussion at a dinner of world leaders in Buenos Aires on December 1, briefly talked about the Mueller report that concluded Trump did not collude with Russia during his 2016 presidential campaign.

During a news conference with Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini later on May 3, Trump reiterated that accusations of collusion with Russia were “a total hoax.”

The Mueller report said the investigation did not find a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, saying it had not collected sufficient evidence “to establish” or sustain criminal charges.