Donald Trump hails ‘good start’ meeting with Vladimir Putin

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Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and US President Donald Trump shake hands before a meeting in Helsinki, on July 16, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin held a private meeting for a little over two hours. Prior to the event, Trump blamed previous US administrations for the bad state of bilateral relations.     

Trump and Putin at a working lunch in Helsinki (Reuters/K. Lamarque)

President Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin began their summit on Monday in Helsinki, Finland. The US president said that the bilateral meetings had gotten off to a “very good start,” after both leaders met for more than two hours behind closed doors, with only translators present.

Prior to the closed-door meeting, the US and Russian presidents shook hands and Trump did most of the talking, as cameras flashed. “The world wants to see us get along,” the US president said.  “We have not been getting along well for the last number of years,” Trump added.

Read more: What Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin should agree on in Helsinki

The meeting in Helsinki took place in the midst of frayed relations between the US and its European allies, following a contentious NATO summit, and after 12 Russian military intelligence officers were indicted in the US for hacking Democrats in the 2016 election.

Just hours before his meeting with Putin, Trump blamed “many years of US foolishness and stupidity,” in reference to previous administrations, and the ongoing Russia probe for the bad state of bilateral relations.

Trump said the two would discuss issues such as trade, military, missiles and China. But he made no mention of topics such as Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, Syria or the occupation of Crimea.

Read more: Finland an East-West nexus as Trump and Putin come to talk

The closely-watched summit is not the first time the Russian and US presidents have held talks. They met on the sidelines of world leader meetings in Germany and Vietnam last year.

jcg/rc (AP, Reuters)

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