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Putin, Trump hail summit in Helsinki a success

By Julian Shea in London and Bo Leung in Helsinki | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2018-07-16 19:11
US President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin shake hands as they meet in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday. [Photo/Agencies]

Meeting the start of a long process of dialogue, says US leader

Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed his first one-on-one summit meeting with US President Donald Trump as "successful and useful" as Trump described him as a “good competitor” while saying that’s a compliment after their two-hour closed-door discussions in Helsinki on Monday.

Speaking at a media conference which was delayed after a protestor was removed from the room, Putin said that concrete proposals had been made on the topic of arms control, and also that Russia was ready to cooperate in the fight against terrorism and on the issue of cybersecurity.

Russia admitted to concerns over the withdrawal of the US from the Iranian Nuclear Deal, but Putin spoke optimistically, saying “The Cold War over, US and Russia need to solve problems together."

The meeting rounded off a controversial trip to Europe for Trump, during which he had a fractious meeting with NATO leaders in Brussels, and his visit to the United Kingdom provoked massive public protests.

He also had to deal with the news coming from back home that 12 Russian officials have been charged with hacking the 2016 US elections, a suggestion Moscow has always rejected.

Putin said during the talks, he reiterated his position that Russia had not meddled in US elections, nor did it ever plan to.

Trump said that this first summit with the Russian president was not just a stand-alone event, but "the beginning of a longer process with strong dialogue with Russia".

The two leaders have previously had talks at larger multilateral meetings, but this is the first such personal encounter, behind closed doors with only their translators in attendance, rounding off Trump’s European tour.

Before his arrival in Helsinki, Trump said, “We have discussions on everything from trade to military, to missiles, to nuclear, to China, we’ll be talking a little bit about China — our mutual friend President Xi.

“I’ve been here not too long, but it is getting close to two years, but I think we will end up having an extraordinary relationship.”

Trump had said he had “low expectations” for the meeting and tweeted that relations between the countries had never been worse, blaming the situation on the ongoing investigations into alleged collusion with Russia surrounding his 2016 election victory.

On Friday, 12 Russians were charged with hacking the elections, leading some people to call for Trump to cancel the talks. Moscow has rejected allegations of electoral interference, but Russian news agency RIA said Putin was “ready for dialogue” on the issue and hoped the discussions could improve relations between the two nations.

Wang Mingjie in London and Chen Weihua in Beijing contributed to this story.

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