Saturday 18 November 2017

Donald Trump backtracks on his plans for joining Russia in ‘an impenetrable cyber security unit’

The US president said while the prospect was discussed, it didn’t mean he actually thought it could happen.

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin talk at the G20 summit in Germany (Evan Vucci/AP/PA)
Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin talk at the G20 summit in Germany (Evan Vucci/AP/PA)

By Zaina Alibhai

Donald Trump has backtracked on his plans to create “an impenetrable cyber security unit” with Russia hours after discussing the idea with President Vladimir Putin.

The leaders recently came face to face for the first time at the G20 summit in Germany where they announced they had negotiated a ceasefire in southern Syria.

After the meeting, Trump tweeted: “Putin & I discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded … and safe.”

However, shortly after posting the tweet – which was heavily mocked – Trump appeared to drop his plans of a partnership with Putin in another tweet, which said: “The fact that President Putin and I discussed a Cyber Security unit doesn’t mean I think it can happen. It can’t-but a ceasefire can,& did!”

The initial tweet drew widespread ridicule from the public and politicians, including Republican Marco Rubio who likened the partnership to Syrian president Bashar Assad and use of chemical weapons against his own citizens.

However, the US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley defended the prospect, arguing the idea “doesn’t mean we ever trust Russia. We can’t trust Russia and we won’t ever trust Russia.”

Trump said he’d “strongly pressed” Putin about Russia’s involvement in “meddling” with the 2016 US election, referring to US intelligence agencies’ conclusions Russian hackers tried to sway the election in Trump’s favour. Trump said Putin “vehemently denied” the claims, though didn’t reveal whether he believed the Russian president.

Putin said the US president had accepted his denials, saying: “He asked questions, I replied. It seemed to me that he was satisfied with the answers.”

But White House chief of staff Reince Priebus later said: “The president absolutely didn’t believe the denial of President Putin.”

Press Association

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