Russian President Vladimir Putin heralded his first summit with President Donald Trump as a “success” and denied allegations his government interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections during a joint media conference in Helsinki, Finland on Monday.
Trump stated he found the meeting “constructive,” contending relations between the two nations had reached a low ebb prior to the summit.
“Negotiations with the president of the United States, Donald Trump, took place in a frank and businesslike atmosphere,” said Putin. “I think we can call it a success and a very fruitful round of negotiations.”
Among the issues the Russian leader said they discussed were the Syrian civil war, Ukraine, Islamic terrorism, and Iran.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) July 16, 2018
In his prepared opening remarks, Trump defended his decision to meet with Putin.
“Our relationship has never been worse than it is now; however that changed four hours ago,” he said.
“Nothing would be easier politically than to refuse to meet, to refuse to engage, but that would not accomplish anything,” the president added. “As president, I cannot make decisions on foreign policy in a futile effort to appease partisan critics or the media, or Democrats who don’t want to do anything but resist and obstruct.”
“I would rather take a political risk in pursuit of peace, than to risk peace in pursuit of politics.”
.@realDonaldTrump: “Nothing would be easier politically than to refuse to meet, to refuse to engage, but that would not accomplish anything… I would rather take a political risk in pursuit of peace than to risk peace in pursuit of politics." pic.twitter.com/XsMlLxsd7t
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) July 16, 2018
Trump related that he raised the issue of Russia meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections.
“I addressed directly with President Putin the issue of Russian interference in our elections,” Trump said. “I felt this was a matter best discussed in person. President Putin may very well want to address it, and very strongly, because he feels very strongly about it, and he has an interesting idea.”
Trump explained, “He offered to have the people working on the case, come and work with their investigators with respect to the 12 people. I think that is an incredible offer.”
Putin flatly denied his government engaged in interference during the 2016 elections.
“President Trump mentioned the so-called interference of Russia in the American elections,” he said.
“I had to reiterate things I said several times, including during our personal contacts, that the Russian state has never interfered and is not going to interfere into internal American affairs including election process,” he continued.
“Any specific material, if such things arise, we are willing to analyze together,” Putin added.
Putin was also asked if he had any compromising material on the U.S. president, like that suggested in the unverified so-called Trump dossier.
“Yeah, I did hear these rumors that we allegedly collected compromising material on Mr. Trump when he was visiting Moscow,” Putin said. “Please disregard these issues and don’t think about this anymore again.”
"Back then, when he was a private individual, a businessman, nobody told me he was in Moscow," Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin says when asked if Russia possesses compromising material on Pres. Trump or his family https://t.co/JbA2emBRPM pic.twitter.com/xsdmCSfEGa
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) July 16, 2018
Trump traveled to Russia in 2013 for the Miss Universe pageant, which his company owned.
“When President Trump was in Moscow back then, I didn’t even know that he was in Moscow. I treat President Trump with utmost respect, but back then when he was a private individual, a businessman, nobody informed me that he was in Moscow,” the Russian leader stated.
Trump responded to the issue saying any compromising material “would have been out long ago.”
He added, “And if anybody watched Peter Strzok testify over the last couple of days, and I was in Brussels watching it, it was a disgrace to the FBI. It was a disgrace to our country. And you would say that was a total witch hunt.”
Trump has taken actions clearly contrary to Putin’s interests including providing heavy military weaponry to the Ukraine, which former President Obama refused to do.
The U.S. leader has also pushed the North American Treaty Organization to increase military expenditures, pulled the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal, chastised Germany for its natural gas pipeline deal with Russia, and ordered military strikes against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al Assad, all clearly contrary to Putin’s wishes, as well.
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