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Vladimir Putin says Donald Trump was ‘satisfied’ Russia did not interfere in US election

July 8, 2017 4:02 PM
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Vladimir Putin says Donald Trump was ‘satisfied’ Russia did not interfere in US election

Trump, Putin discuss election meddling at G202:59

A US official says Donald Trump spoke to Vladimir Putin about Russian interference during the 2016 election.

RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin hailed his first face-to-face meeting with US President Donald Trump, saying overnight he thinks Mr Trump accepted his assurances that Russia didn’t meddle in the US presidential election and that their conversation could be a model for improving ties between the two countries.

Speaking to reporters after the two-day Group of 20 summit in Germany ended, Putin said he and Mr Trump had a long discussion about the allegations of Russian interference in last year’s election that have dogged Mr Trump’s presidency.

The Russian leader said he reiterated his “well-known” position that “there are no grounds” for the allegations.

“He asked many questions on the subject, I tried to answer them all,” Putin said. “It seems to me that he has taken note of that and agreed, but it’s better to ask him about his attitude.”

Mr Putin said his answers were detailed and covered his discussions on the election meddling issue with representatives of the previous administration, including former President Barack Obama. But he would not reveal details of his exchange with Trump, saying the conversation was confidential.

“He asked questions, I replied. It seemed to me that he was satisfied with the answers,” Mr Putin said.

The Russian president said that a working group on cybersecurity he and Mr Trump agreed to create should help prevent such election controversies in the future. “What is important is that we agreed that there should be no uncertainty in that sphere,” he said. “We agreed with the US president to create a working group and work jointly on how to ensure cyberspace security, how to ensure the fulfilment of international legal norms in that sphere and prevent meddling in internal affairs of Russia and the US. We believe that if we work that way, and I have no reason to doubt it, there will be no such allegations.”

Mr Putin also praised Mr Trump as a strong negotiator who quickly grasps various issues.

“As for relations on personal level, I believe we have established them,” Mr Putin said. “Trump’s TV persona differs sharply from the real man. He is a very straightforward person, grasps precisely what his interlocutor says, quickly analyses and responds to questions or new elements of the discussion.”

The Russian leader said his talks with Mr Trump offered a model for rebuilding Russia-US ties, which have plummeted to post-Cold War lows over the Ukrainian crisis, the war in Syria and other disputes.

“I think that if we develop our relations in the same way, there is every reason to believe that we would be able to at least partially restore the level of interaction that we need,” Putin said.

He particularly hailed the US-Russian deal on a ceasefire in southwestern Syria announced Friday as a step toward ending the hostilities.

It comes as Donald Trump won key concessions on climate and trade from world leaders at the most fractious G20 summit to date, in exchange for preserving the unity of the club of major industrialised and emerging economies.

In a final statement agreed by all 20 economies, 19 members including Russia, China and the European Union acknowledged Mr Trump’s decision to go his own way on taking the US out of the 2015 Paris climate accord.

But they also accommodated Washington’s wish to “work closely with other countries to help them access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently”.

While renewing a key anti-protectionist pledge, the communique for the first time underlined the right of countries to protect their markets with “legitimate trade defence instruments”.

Such wording gives room for Mr Trump to push on with his “America First” policy.

Carried on a wave of public fury over deindustrialisation in vast areas of the United States, Mr Trump had promised to “Buy American” and “Hire American”.

But that stance had set him against many of America’s allies, who warned Mr Trump against an isolationist path.

Nevertheless, the wording of the final agreement marked the group of top economies’ decision to finally close ranks despite bitter differences.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia will meet its obligations under the Paris climate agreement.

Speaking at a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Mr Putin said that “we honour the Paris agreement.”

He added that Russia has made decisions related to the implementation of the deal and intends to implement them.

“One of the very important subjects was climate change. And here, the German presidency managed to find an optimal compromise,” said Mr Putin.

Mr Macron said a summit on climate change would be held on December 12, two years after the landmark Paris accord.

Russia, the world’s fifth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, was among the 195 countries that signed the 2015 Paris agreement but it delayed its ratification for at least two years.

Russia’s carbon emissions reduction goals are very modest, and it also insisted that it be given the maximum potential credit for carbon adsorbed out of the atmosphere by vast Siberian forests.

Mr Trump told Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping that “something has to be done” on North Korea, as they held talks at the G20 summit in Germany.

“It may take longer than I’d like, it may take longer that you’d like,” Trump said, “but there will be success in the end, one way or the other.”


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