Trump warns Russia not to meddle in US elections: White House

However, Russian FM Lavrov denies US leader discussed election meddling with him during their Oval Office meeting.

    US President Donald Trump warned Russia not to interfere in United States elections in talks with Russia's top diplomat, according to the White House.

    However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov who met Trump in a rare meeting at the Oval Office on Tuesday later refuted the US statement.

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    "You know, we haven't even actually discussed elections," Lavrov said, speaking through an interpreter at a solo evening news conference.

    At a separate briefing with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Lavrov said Moscow wanted to publish US-Russian communications that he said cleared Russia of allegations it meddled in the 2016 US election, but that Washington had blocked their release.

    He said the contacts were with former President Barack Obama's administration but did not provide details. He repeated Russian denials of vote interference.

    Nuclear warheads

    Lavrov also renewed Moscow's offer to extend the US-Russia New START arms control treaty, while Trump and Pompeo stressed the need for a strategic dialogue that also included China.

    China, which is estimated to have far fewer nuclear weapons than the US and Russia, has rejected trilateral talks, and some analysts view the US stance as a poison pill designed to kill off the New START treaty.

    The 2011 agreement, which requires both sides to cut their deployed strategic nuclear warheads to no more than 1,550, is scheduled to expire in February 2021 but can be extended for up to five years by mutual consent.

    China is estimated to possess about 290 nuclear warheads, according to the Arms Control Association nonprofit group.

    "There is real risk that there is a reduction in strategic stability just staying right where we are," Pompeo said, arguing delivery systems have evolved beyond the missiles, bombers and submarines covered by the New START treaty.

    Noting Russian President Vladimir Putin's offer to extend that treaty immediately, Lavrov said: "The ball is in our American partners' court."

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    SOURCE: News agencies