Friday 2 December 2016

President-elect eyes strong relationship with Putin

Natasha Alban

Published 15/11/2016 | 02:30

Painted Matryoshka dolls, or Russian nesting dolls, bearing the faces of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Russian President Vladimir Putin are displayed for sale at a souvenir shop in central Moscow. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin/File Photo
Painted Matryoshka dolls, or Russian nesting dolls, bearing the faces of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Russian President Vladimir Putin are displayed for sale at a souvenir shop in central Moscow. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin/File Photo

Russian President Vladimir Putin and president-elect Donald Trump spoke over the phone yesterday to discuss future efforts to improve US-Russian ties, the Kremlin and Mr Trump's office said.

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"President-elect Trump noted to President Putin that he is very much looking forward to having a strong and enduring relationship with Russia and the people of Russia," Mr Trump's office said in a statement.

The Kremlin, in a far more specific and longer readout, said Mr Putin congratulated Mr Trump on his victory and expressed Russia's readiness to "establish a partner-like dialogue with the new administration on the basis of equality, mutual respect and non-interference in domestic relations".

Mr Trump's office said that Mr Putin called him to "offer his congratulations on winning a historic election".

"During the call, the two leaders discussed a range of issues including the threats and challenges facing the United States and Russia, strategic economic issues and the historical US-Russia relationship that dates back over 200 years," the statement said.

In its readout, the Kremlin added that both Mr Putin and Mr Trump agreed US-Russian ties are in "extremely unsatisfactory" condition now.

"They spoke for active joint work to normalise ties and engage in constructive co-operation on a broad range of issues," it said, adding that Mr Putin and Mr Trump emphasised the need to develop trade and economic co-operation to give a strong basis to US-Russia relations.

Mr Putin and Mr Trump also agreed on the need to combine efforts in the fight against their No. 1 enemy - "international terrorism and extremism" - and discussed the settlement of the Syrian crisis in that context, according to the Kremlin.

How to fight side-by-side in Syria, where Russia supports President Bashar Assad and the US supports rebels fighting against him and Isil, has been one of the key sticking points between President Barack Obama and Mr Putin.

It said that Mr Putin and Mr Trump agreed to continue phone contacts and to plan a personal meeting in the future.

Mr Trump's statement said he looked forward to a "strong and enduring relationship" with Russia. During the campaign, he outlined few specifics as to how he would go about it. Mr Obama began his presidency with a goal to "reset" ties with Russia, but they eventually plunged to the lowest point since the Cold War over the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

Throughout the campaign, the Kremlin insisted it had no favourites and rejected claims of interference in the US election. Russia's state-controlled media, however, made no secret of their sympathy for Mr Trump.

Irish Independent

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