Trump, Putin begin talks

Published: July 16, 2018 18:06:55 | Updated: July 17, 2018 17:52:00

US President Donald Trump meeting with Russia's President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki of Finland on Monday. -Reuters Photo

US President Donald Trump has said that getting along with Russia would be a "good thing, not a bad thing".

“I’ve been saying, and I’m sure you’ve heard over the years...that getting along with Russia is a good thing not a bad thing,” Trump said.

Trump came up with the statement in his opening remarks in front of media before his closed-door summit with Russia's President Vladimir Putin, reports Reuters.

"Most importantly we have a lot of good things to talk about," Trump said, seated next to Putin at the start of talks in an ornate presidential palace in neutral Finland.

The US president also praised Putin for Russia's hosting of the soccer World Cup.

The two will talk about "everything from trade to military to missiles to China. We’ll be talking a little bit about China. Our mutual friend president Xi," Trump said.

Trump reached out to shake Putin’s hand, before the media were ushered out.

The two men were to meet alone apart from interpreters before a working lunch with aides. Trump said they would talk about a range of subjects, listing trade, the military, nuclear weapons and China.

But, at least in his public remarks at the outset, he mentioned none of the issues that have lately brought US-Russian relations to the lowest point since the Cold War: Moscow’s annexation of territory from Ukraine, its support for Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, as well as Western accusations that it poisoned a spy in England and meddled in elections.

Instead, Trump saved his public criticism for his own country, tweeting before the summit: “Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of US foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!”

The Russian foreign ministry “liked” his tweet.

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