U.S. President Donald Trump defended his efforts to build a relationship with Vladimir Putin in an interview broadcast on Friday after he invited the Russian leader for a second meeting in the midst of an uproar over their first
Trump’s administration has sought to control the damage from Monday’s summit in Helsinki, where the president shocked the world by siding with Putin over U.S. intelligence agencies on Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
As the White House tried to put some distance between the two leaders, Trump made a jarring move in the opposite direction on Thursday, offering to host Putin in Washington in the fall.
In a television interview taped on Thursday, Trump said that he and Putin, who U.S. intelligence agencies say directed interference to sway the 2016 vote toward Trump, had a rapport during their meeting in Helsinki.
“Look, the fact is we got along well,” he told CNBC, adding that the two did not agree on everything.
“So I had a meeting that lasted for more than two hours. It wasn’t always conciliatory in that meeting,” Trump said, without elaborating. “We discussed lots of great things for both countries, frankly.”
Only interpreters were present for the two leaders’ private meeting and details of what was discussed remain unknown.
Russia is ready to discuss a proposed new meeting between Putin and Trump, Interfax news agency cited Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, as saying on Friday.
Antonov said Putin had made concrete proposals to Trump about resolving the conflict in eastern Ukraine, Interfax said, though he did not spell out what these were.
The Russian ambassador suggested a meeting between Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and his U.S. counterpart, James Mattis, adding that a group of U.S. lawmakers are also planning to visit Russia, according to Interfax.
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