Wednesday 22 January 2020

Trump declares 'very good start for everybody' in high stakes meeting with Russia

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Jonathan Lemire, Jill Colvin and Vladimir Isachenkov

US president Donald Trump said a high stakes summit with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Helsinki has enjoyed a "good start".

Mr Trump called his meeting with Mr Putin "a good start, a very good start for everybody" as the two leaders and their top advisers sat across the table from one another during a lunch.

This follows more than two hours of one-to-one discussions involving just the US and Russian leaders, with only translators present.

The White House had scheduled 90 minutes for that meeting.

The US president was joined at the lunch by US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, US ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman and other top aides.

After the lunch, Mr Trump and Mr Putin will appear for a joint news conference in Helsinki.

Even before Mr Trump and Mr Putin sat down on Monday, Russia's government signalled that the two leaders are on the same page.

Russia's foreign ministry tweeted "we agree" in reaction to Mr Trump's morning tweet criticising US "foolishness and stupidity" for the state of relations between the two countries.

Mr Trump's tweet said: "Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!"

The US leader has promised to raise Russian election meddling with Mr Putin, but he did not do so publicly when he discussed the agenda as they first met at the presidential palace in Helsinki.

PA Media

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