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Trump pulls US out of Treaty on Open Skies

The Manila Times logo The Manila Times 5/22/2020 Xinhua
Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie © Provided by The Manila Times

WASHINGTON, D.C.: President Donald Trump on Thursday (Friday in Manila) said the United States is withdrawing from the Treaty on Open Skies, the latest move to abandon a major international arms control agreement.

“Russia didn’t adhere to the treaty; so until they adhere, we will pull out,” Trump told reporters at the White House when asked about the decision to withdraw from the treaty.

“But there is a very good chance we will make a new agreement or do something to put that agreement back together,” he added, without elaborating.

The Washington Post reported that Christopher Ford, assistant secretary of state for international security and non-proliferation, would inform Moscow of the decision during his Thursday’s lunch with Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov.

Analysts noted that the US pull out, rumored for months, would cause grievance among European allies who are also participating in the treaty. The withdrawal would formally take place in six months, based on the treaty’s withdrawal terms.

The treaty, which became effective in 2002, allows its states-parties to conduct short-notice, unarmed reconnaissance flights over the others’ entire territories to collect data on military forces and activities.

Currently, 35 nations, including Russia, the US and some other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, have signed it. Kyrgyzstan has signed but not ratified it yet.

The treaty is aimed at building confidence and familiarity among states-parties through their participation in the overflights. Over 1,500 Open Skies flights had been conducted since the deal entered into force in 2002, according to media reports.

The US and Russia have blamed each other for noncompliance with the treaty. Washington and Moscow have each put a few limits on flights over their territories — Hawaii and some other US bases have been off-limits, as have Kaliningrad, among others, according to media reports.


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