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Rediff.com  » News » After meeting Putin, Trump terms Russia probe a 'disaster'

After meeting Putin, Trump terms Russia probe a 'disaster'

Last updated on: July 17, 2018 00:09 IST

Praising the ‘frank and business-like atmosphere’ of the summit, the Russian leader said he considered the talks 'very successful and useful'.

IMAGE: US President Donald Trump meets with Russia's President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Presidents of the United States and Russian Federation Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin respectively, vowed a fresh start to troubled relations between the world's greatest nuclear powers at their first summit on Monday.

 

Trump endorsed Putin's stance on Russia's non-involvement in the 2016 US Presidential election, insisting that he ran a clean campaign.

Addressing a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Trump said that there was ‘zero collusion’ and that he ran a ‘clean campaign’.

"There was no collusion at all. Everybody knows it," he said.

IMAGE: The summit in Helsinki consists of a one-on-one meeting and a larger working lunch, and will conclude with a joint news conference. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Trump also mentioned that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign was ‘a disaster for our country’, while also saying that it had negatively impacted US-Russia relations.

"It's ridiculous. It's ridiculous what's going on with the probe," Trump said.

IMAGE: Trump receives a football from Putin as they hold a joint news conference after their meeting in Helsinki. Photograph: Grigory Dukor/Reuters

When questioned if he would rather trust the US agencies that have concluded that Russia did interfere in the 2016 elections or Putin, who denies those claims, Trump repeatedly asked why the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) did not confiscate the Democratic National Committee's email server and Hillary Clinton's emails.

"Why the FBI never took the server. Why haven't they taken the server? Why was the FBItold to leave the office of the Democratic National Committee? I've been wondering that. Where are those servers? They're missing. Where are they? What happened to Hillary Clinton's emails? 33,000 emails gone, just gone," Trump said.

IMAGE: The two leaders were seated together in a room at the Finnish Presidential Palace. The meeting started about 45 minutes late following Putin's delayed arrival to Finland. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Earlier, Putin had strongly denied reports of Russian involvement in the elections, saying that Russia had ‘never interfered’ with American affairs.

"Once again, President Trump mentioned issue of the so-called interference of Russia with the American elections. I had to reiterate things I said several times, including during our personal contacts, that the Russian state has never interfered and is not going to interfere in internal American affairs, including election process," Putin said.

He also touched upon the indictment of 12 Russian nationals by a US jury last week as part of Mueller's investigation for their alleged meddling with the 2016 elections, saying that he wasn't familiar with the full extent of the situation, saying that he will look into the matter.

IMAGE: The two made it clear there was no rapport, affection or even admiration between them, especially from Putin who failed to use anything other than darting eye contact and who failed to smile even when Trump congratulated him about the World Cup. Photograph: Lehtikuva/Heikki Saukkomaa/Reuters

The US and Russian leaders came out of their meeting in Helsinki expressing a desire to cooperate on global challenges, after talks on an array of issues from Syria, Ukraine and China to trade tariffs and the size of their nuclear arsenals.

The US leader, bent on forging a personal bond with the Kremlin chief despite the election allegations, went into the summit blaming the ‘stupidity’ of his predecessors for plunging ties to their present low.
Afterwards, both men were determined to accentuate the positive.

"Our relationship has never been worse than it is now. However, that changed as of about four hours ago. I really believe that," Trump said, vowing the summit was ‘only the beginning’.

IMAGE: Earlier in the day, Trump and US First Lady, Melania Trump arrive aboard Air Force One at Helsinki International Airport. Photograph: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Putin said: "It is obvious to everyone that bilateral ties are going through a difficult period. However there are no objective reasons for these difficulties, the current tense atmosphere."

Praising the ‘frank and business-like atmosphere’ of the summit, the Russian leader said he considered the talks ‘very successful and useful’.

The two leaders met one-on-one for more than two hours in the Finnish capital for the historic summit, with just their interpreters present, before they were joined by their national security teams.

Putin, basking in congratulations from Trump and other world leaders for the successful staging of the World Cup in Russia, said: "The time has come to talk in a substantive way about our relations and problem areas of the world."

Source: ANI