x

Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Trump believes Putin did not meddle in US elections - says Putin  

Speaking at the end of the G20 summit in Germany where the two leaders met face-to-face for the first time, Putin said he believed he had been able to establish a personal relationship with Trump, and that the initial groundwork had been laid for an improvement in U.S.-Russian ties.

Russian President Vladimir Putin in his  closing press conference at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 8, 2017. Alexander Zemlianichenko /EPA
Russian President Vladimir Putin in his closing press conference at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 8, 2017. Alexander Zemlianichenko /EPA

HAMBURG // It was a highly-anticipated meeting between two powerful, but very different men. And after their first face-to-face meeting at the G20 summit, it seems that president Vladimir Putin and president Donald Trump hit it off.

Mr Putin said Mr Trump - who used to have his own television show - was nothing like his TV persona and spoke warmly of his personal qualities.

"I believe that we have established personal relations already," Mr Putin said. "The TV Trump is very different from the person in reality. He is absolutely precise, he reacts as you would expect to his interlocutor, he analyses fairly quickly, answers questions that are put to him.

Speaking at the end of a G20 summit in Germany where the two leaders met face-to-face for the first time, Mr Putin said he believed the initial groundwork had been laid for an improvement in US-Russian ties.

Their meeting, on the sidelines of the Hamburg summit, was subject to intense scrutiny, following allegations that Moscow helped Trump win the White House and Washington's investigation into the Russian connections of some of M Trump's associates.

The norm for first meetings is an hour, But the two presidents spend more than two hours closeted away.

Mr Putin was asked what had been said about alleged Russian election interference, which Russia denies.

"(Trump) asked a lot of questions on this subject. I, in as much as I was able, answered these questions. It seems to me that he took these (answers) on board and agreed with them, but in actual fact, it's best to ask him how he views this," the Russian president said.

Pressed for more details, Mr Putin said, "He started to ask pointed questions, he was really interested in particular details. I, as much as I could, answered him in a fairly detailed way. I believe it would not be entirely appropriate on my part to disclose details of my discussion with Mr Trump. He asked, I answered him. He asked pointed questions, I answered them. It seemed to me that he was satisfied with those answers.

"It seems to me that if we build our relations the way that our conversation went yesterday, then we all have grounds to believe that we can, at least in part, restore the level of cooperation that we need."