US President Donald Trump has said China would like to be part of a new three-way accord to limit nuclear arms – a suggestion greeted with scepticism by many observers who questioned whether Beijing would want to limit its ability to enhance its second-strike capacity.

Trump, who had a lengthy telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday, said they had discussed ways to include China in the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (Start), which became effective in 2011.

“We discussed the possibility of a three-way deal instead of a two-way deal. And China – I’ve already spoken to them. They very much would like to be a part of that deal,” Trump told reporters during an Oval Office meeting with Slovakia’s Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini.

“So I think we’re going to probably start up something very shortly between Russia and ourselves, maybe to start off. And I think China will be added down the road,” Trump said.

“We’re talking about a nuclear agreement where we make less, and they make less and maybe where we get rid of some of the tremendous firepower that we have right now,” he added.

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