HELSINKI (Reuters) – US President Donald Trump has said that he had productive talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin that had turned the corner on a relationship that had never been worse.
“If we are going to solve many of the problems facing our world, we will have to find ways to cooperate,” Mr Trump told a joint news conference here on Monday.
Mr Trump said he had discussed a wide range of critical issues for both countries, including the war in Syria, Iran, global terrorism and nuclear arms control. He also addressed the issue of alleged Russian interference in US elections, he said.
“We made the first steps toward a brighter future, grounded on cooperation and peace,” he said. “Refusing to engage will not accomplish anything.”
Hailing the summit as being a success after a dialogue between the two nations following a private one-on-one discussion that lasted two hours, Mr Trump said, “The world wants to see us get along.I think we’ll end up having an extraordinary relationship.”
Mr Trump said he emphasised the importance of pressuring Iran, while Mr Putin said the US is aware of Russia’s stance on the Iran nuclear deal.
Mr Trump and Mr Putin arrived Monday at Helsinki’s presidential palace for a long-awaited summit, hours after Mr Trump blamed the United States, and not Russian election meddling or its annexation of Crimea, for a low-point in US-Russia relations.
As the two leaders prepared to begin their summit, Mr Trump told reporters that the US and China “are the world’s two biggest nuclear powers…That’s a bad thing, not a good thing…I hope we can do something about that.”
The summit, which was closely watched by rattled world capitals, was condemned in advance by members of Congress from both parties after the US indictment last week of 12 Russian military intelligence officers accused of hacking Democrats in the 2016 election to help Mr Trump’s presidential campaign. Undeterred, the American president was set to go face to face with Mr Putin, the authoritarian leader for whom he has expressed admiration.