Thu. 8:51 a.m.: Putin: US shunning talks to extend nuclear pact

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin says the United States has shunned talks on extending a key nuclear arms reduction pact, raising new threats to global security.

Speaking during a meeting with international news agencies’ chiefs at the sidelines of an investment forum in St. Petersburg, the Russian leader said that Washington has been reluctant to begin talks on extending the New START pact, set to expire in 2021.

The pact that was signed in 2010 by U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers.

Putin also criticized the U.S. withdrawal from another key arms pact, the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and rejected Washington’s claims of Russian violations of the agreement.

Putin also has told reporters that Moscow has no intention to deploy its troops or set up military bases in Venezuela.

He added that Russian experts have been in Venezuela to service Russian-made weapons bought by Caracas.

Putin was responding to a question about a tweet by U.S. President Donald Trump earlier this week that said Moscow had informed Washington it had pulled out its personnel from Venezuela.

“We aren’t creating any bases or sending troops there,” Putin said. “But we will be keeping our obligations in the sphere of military and technical cooperation.”

The Russian leader said the U.S. sanctions against Venezuela have hurt ordinary people and warned Washington against using force.