- Associated Press - Friday, December 23, 2016

BEIJING (AP) — China said Friday that countries with the largest nuclear arsenals should take the lead in disarmament, after President-elect Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin said they wanted to strengthen their nations’ nuclear capabilities.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters at a regular briefing Beijing is “paying close attention” to what nuclear weapons policy Trump’s administration will follow.

After meeting with Pentagon officials and defense contractors a day earlier, Trump tweeted Thursday: “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”

His comments came hours after Putin said he wanted to strengthen Russia’s own nuclear capabilities in the coming year.

The U.S. and Russia hold the vast majority of the world’s nuclear weapons. China is also a nuclear power and in 1996, Beijing signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

According to the Washington, D.C.-based Arms Control Association, China has an estimated 260 nuclear warheads. Russia and the U.S. have more than 7,000 each.

Hua said that China advocates a ban on and destruction of nuclear weapons.

“The countries that have the largest nuclear arsenals should bear special responsibility for nuclear disarmament, take a lead in drastically and tangibly cutting the number of nuclear weapons so as to create conditions for the eventual full and thorough nuclear disarmament,” Hua said.

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