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Putin to tour weapons sites before talks with US’s Pompeo

media Russian President Vladimir Putin, seen here in Beijing in April, was to meet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss arms control in Sochi on Tuesday. Sputnik/Aleksey Nikolskyi/Handout via REUTERS

Russian President Vladimir Putin planned to visit defence sites ahead of a meeting expected to focus on arms control with United States top diplomat Mike Pompeo at the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Tuesday.

On Monday, Putin was scheduled to visit an aircraft manufacturer in the city of Kazan and then chair a government meeting.

And before meeting the US Secretary of State on Tuesday, Putin is expected to inspect new weapons at a top military flight test centre in the southern Astrakhan region.

“The head of state will be shown aircraft already in production and prototype weapons,” the Kremlin said on Monday.

Putin said last year Russia had designed a new generation of “invincible” nuclear weapons and warned of a new arms race if America pulled out of weapons treaties.

In February, the US pulled out of one such arms treaty, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces bilateral accord between Washington and Moscow, over charges that a Russian missile system violated it.

On Tuesday, Putin and Pompeo are expected to discuss the fate of the New START treaty, which caps the number of nuclear weapons at well below Cold War limits.

US President Donald Trump has called for a broader agreement, which includes China, to succeed it when it expires in 2021.

The meeting would be the highest-level US-Russia engagement since a summit in July in Helsinki last year, after which Trump faced criticism at home for a perceived conciliatory tone towards Putin.

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