Trump hails ‘very good start’ with Putin at first summit

Indeed, some domestic critics wanted the Helsinki summit called off entirely after 12 Russian military agents were indicted under a long-running probe into Moscow’s alleged manipulation of the 2016 US elections.
But Trump, convinced his unique brand of diplomacy can make inroads with Putin, pressed ahead and looked forward to “having an extraordinary relationship” as the pair sat down to discuss everything from Syria, Ukraine and China to trade tariffs and the size of their nuclear arsenals.

Putin, basking in congratulations from Trump and other world leaders for the successful staging of the World Cup in Russia, said: “The time has come to talk in a substantive way about our relations and problem areas of the world.”


Trump added: “Frankly, we have not been getting along for the last number of years. And I really think the world wants to see us get along. We are the two great nuclear powers.”

– ‘We’ll do fine’ –
Shortly before the summit opened, Trump was asked if he would press Putin over Russia’s alleged manipulation of the election that brought the mercurial property tycoon to power 18 months ago. He said only: “We’ll do just fine.”

But there are many points of friction that could yet spoil Trump’s hoped-for friendship with his wily opposite number, who has run Russia for 18 years.

Trump began the day by firing a Twitter broadside at his domestic opponents, blaming the diplomatic chill on the investigation into alleged Russian election meddling.

“Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!” Trump tweeted.

Russia’s foreign ministry tweeted in response: “We agree.”

Trump’s US opponents tried, in turn, to gain traction for the sarcastic hashtag lampooning his reluctance to criticise the Kremlin: #BAF (Blame America First).





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