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Trump to withdraw US from ‘Open Skies’ treaty

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WASHINGTON, (AFP) – President Donald Trump announced Thursday he plans to withdraw the United States from the Open Skies Treaty with Russia, the third arms control pact Trump has abrogated since coming to office.

The US leader said Moscow had not stuck to its commitments under the 18-year-old pact, which was designed to improve military transparency and confidence between the superpowers.

“Russia did not adhere to the treaty,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

“So until they adhere, we will pull out.”

Moscow quickly countered that the pullout would damage European security and harm the interests of US allies.

Ambassadors to NATO, whose members are also party to the treaty, called an urgent meeting Friday to assess the consequences of the move, which could impact European security.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas urged Washington to reconsider, saying that Germany, France, Poland and Britain had repeatedly explained to the US that the problems with the Russians in recent years “did not justify” pulling out.

The treaty “contributes to security and peace in almost all of the northern hemisphere,” Maas said.

“We will continue implementing the treaty and do everything to preserve it.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Trump would formally notify the parties to the treaty on Friday of US plans to withdraw, which will start a six-month countdown to pullout.

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