Putin pokes fun at US seal amid arms pact dispute


MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin poked fun at the official seal of the United States while hosting U.S. President Donald Trump's national security adviser today, saying he wondered if the American eagle had plucked all the olives from the branch in its talon.

While sitting down with John Bolton at the Kremlin, Putin mentioned Trump's stated intent to pull the U.S. out of a pivotal arms control treaty. He said Moscow also was aware of Washington's doubts about extending another landmark nuclear treaty and its plans to deploy elements of missile defense in space.

The Russian leader then referred to the Great Seal of the United States, which includes a bald eagle holding a bundle of 13 arrows in one talon and an olive branch with 13 olives in another.

"I have a question: Has your eagle picked all the olives and only has arrows left?" Putin asked with a laugh.

But while underlining the differences between Russia and the U.S., Putin also emphasized the need to maintain a dialogue, saying he would be ready to meet with Trump in Paris during centenary commemorations next month marking the end of World War I.

Putin said his last meeting with Trump in Helsinki in July was useful despite their tough discussion, adding he would be open to meet with Trump in France "if the U.S. side is interested in such contacts."

Bolton responded that Trump would look forward to seeing Putin in Paris on the sideline of events marking 100 years since Armistice Day.

"Despite our differences which exist because of our different national interests, it's still important to work in areas where there is a possibility of mutual cooperation," Bolton said.

Bolton's Kremlin meeting with Putin followed two days of talks with top Russian foreign policy and security officials.

"Hopefully, I will have some answers for you," he said. "But I didn't bring any more olives."

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