Trump and Putin summit underway in Helsinki
July 16, 2018 05:18 pm
US President Donald Trump told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday that he hopes their two countries can have an “extraordinary relationship” going forward, just hours after he blamed US policy -- not Putin -- for the dismal state of relations between the two countries.
“I think we have great opportunities together as two countries that, frankly, we have not been getting along very well for the last number of years,” Trump said. “I think we will end up having an extraordinary relationship.”
Trump arrived Monday afternoon at the Finnish presidential palace for what he has called a summit with Putin, hoping once again that his personal touch can reverse the steep decline in US-Russia relations in recent years.
US officials have stressed the path to improving US-Russia ties runs through a clear-eyed understanding of Russian aggression and the root causes of discord in the relationship, but Trump is signaling a different course. He is holding previous US administrations and the Justice Department’s investigation stemming from Russian meddling in the 2016 election responsible.
“Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!” Trump tweeted Monday morning ahead of the summit.
Trump and Putin arrived separately at the Finnish presidential palace, about 45 minutes behind schedule. Trump held at his hotel while he waited for Putin, who is known for arriving late to important events, to touch down -- drawing comparisons to Trump’s late arrivals at recent summits with US allies.
They then walked into a room at the presidential palace together before offering brief remarks before a gaggle of cameras and reporters, with Trump congratulating Putin once again “on a really great World Cup.”
The two men shook hands after speaking, before reporters were ushered out.
For the next hour-and-a-half, Trump and Putin are scheduled to hold one-on-one discussions, with only interpreters at their side.