Bolton presses Russia about meddling in US election process

by Garry Watts August 26, 2018, 0:18
Bolton presses Russia about meddling in US election process

He will also follow up on Trump's highly controversial July summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

At a news conference Wednesday, John Bolton, the National Security Advisor of the United States, called Israeli airstrikes against Iranian military assets in Syria "a legitimate act of self-defense", The Jerusalem Post reported.

Patrushev told reporters, without being specific, that no accusations were brought against Moscow during the talks but that the two sides discussed Syria, Ukraine, cybersecurity, and nuclear issues.

The Trump administration renewed a set of sanctions this month after withdrawing from the 2015 global nuclear deal with Iran, which Washington regards as insufficient for denying Tehran the means to make an atomic bomb and as a spur for its meddling in neighbouring Middle East countries.

Putin "told us that his interest and Iran's were not exactly the same", Bolton told Reuters the day before, while he was still in Israel.

While describing the meeting with his USA counterpart as "constructive", Patrushev said that he had invited US officials to Moscow or any other Russian city for a new round of talks, but no agreement had been reached on the timing for further talks.

Bolton said they also discussed Syria and Iran.

"I think the effects, the economic effects certainly, are even stronger than we anticipated", he said.

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Russia, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's big-power backer, says it is committed to destroying Islamic State insurgents but has been more circumspect about the involvement of Iran, another foreign power reinforcing Damascus. "UNRWA's programme is the only one in history based on the assumption that refugee status is hereditary, and I think it is long overdue that we have taken steps to reduce funding", he said.

However, as Bolton said at the press conference, following his talks with Patrushev, any deal to end Iran's military presence in Syria "is far from easy to achieve".

"So they said they were not going to sign this statement".

Ahmad Khatami also told worshippers attending Eid prayers in Tehran that Mr Trump's offer of talks with Iranian leaders was unacceptable, as the USA leader wanted Iran to concede on its missile programme and regional influence.

Separately related to Syria, Bolton had a warning for Assad as speculation increases over a Russian-backed government assault on northern Idlib province, home to the last major rebel stronghold in the country.

Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Washington-based Arms Control Association, said that reactivating the terms of the Moscow Treaty - which contained no monitoring or verification provisions for caps on numbers of deployed strategic weapons - would be a poor substitute for New Start.

He was asked if he is ever concerned that Trump is a "security risk" given that his former lawyer Michael Cohen admitted to campaign finance crimes in federal court on Tuesday and implicated the President by saying Trump had directed the action. "I mean, that's a silly question".

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