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Donald Trump arrives for meeting with Vladimir Putin

Donald Trump arrives for a meeting with Vladimir Putin

U.S. President Donald Trump sat down with Vladimir Putin for a long-awaited summit on Monday saying he wanted good relations with Russia, after blaming Washington’s own past “foolishness and stupidity” for the countries’ hostile ties.

“I’ve been saying, and I’m sure you’ve heard over the years…that getting along with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing,” Trump said, seated next to Putin at the start of talks in an ornate presidential palace in neutral Finland.

Trump reached out to shake Putin‘s hand before the media were ushered out. The two men were to meet alone apart from interpreters before a working lunch with aides. Trump said they would talk about a range of subjects, listing trade, the military, nuclear weapons and China.

Putin appeared to smirk as Trump ignored shouted questions about whether he would warn the Russian leader against meddling in the 2018 midterm elections.

But, at least in his public remarks at the outset, he mentioned none of the issues that have lately brought U.S.-Russian relations to the lowest point since the Cold War: Moscow’s annexation of territory from Ukraine, its support for Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, as well as Western accusations that it poisoned a spy in England and meddled in elections.

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