WORLD Updated: Trump calls Putin 'a good competitor'


Updated: Trump calls Putin 'a good competitor'


18:22, July 16, 2018

The Latest on President Donald Trump's summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin (all times local):


President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin is holding a joint news conference Monday after meeting one-on-one behind closed doors for more than two hours here on Monday at their first major sit-down, then holding a larger session that included officials and other aides.

Putin said his summit meeting with US leader Donald Trump was "very successful", following several hours of talks in Helsinki.

"I consider them (talks) very successful and useful," Putin told a news conference alongside Trump, praising the "frank and business-like atmosphere" of the summit.

Putin says Russia has never interfered in US electoral process. 

"Mr Trump touched on the theme of Russian interference in American elections. I had to repeat what I have already said many times before -- the Russian state has never interfered and is not planning to interfere in the USA's internal affairs," Putin said.

Trump declared that US-Russian relations have turned a corner after a summit with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that he described as "open, direct and deeply productive".

"Our relationship has never been worse than it is now. However, that changed as of about four hours ago. I really believe that," Trump told a Helsinki news conference after a day of talks with Putin.

Trump also said he had spent "a great deal of time" pressing Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin about election meddling at summit talks.

"During today's meeting I addressed the issue of Russian interference in our elections. I felt this was a message best delivered in person," Trump told.

"Spent a great deal of time talking about it, and President Putin may very well want to address it and very strongly. He feels very strongly about it and he has an interesting idea," he said.

Trump called Putin a competitor and a "good competitor". He thinks the word "competitor" is a compliment.


7:25 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has rejected allegations that Moscow has collected compromising materials on U.S. President Donald Trump or his family.

Asked during a joint news conference following their summit in Helsinki, the Russian leader dismissed the claims as “sheer nonsense.”

Putin said that he hadn’t been aware of Trump’s visit to Moscow a few years before his 2016 election, which has been stained by accusations that Russians hacked and interfered in the campaign to support Trump.

Putin, a former KGB agent, scoffed at the notion that the Russian security services try to gather incriminating materials on businessmen, saying: “Do you really believe that we try to shadow every businessman?”


7:15 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says he wanted Donald Trump to win the U.S. presidency, but strongly denied any Russian state meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

Putin argued that Trump’s calls for better ties during the presidential election campaign “naturally” made him a preferred candidate for many Russians.

Asked if he personally favored Trump in the race, Putin responded: “Yes, I wanted him to win because he spoke of normalization of Russian-U.S. ties.”

At the same time, Putin rejected the allegations of collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia as “complete nonsense.”

The issue is a big concern for many U.S. voters.

Putin spoke during a joint news conference with Trump in Helsinki.


7:05 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he sees no reason why Russia would interfere in the 2016 election.

Trump resisted when asked Monday to condemn Russian meddling in the election. Instead, he complained about a Democratic National Committee computer server and emails belonging to Hillary Clinton, the Democrat he defeated to win the presidency.

At a joint appearance in Finland with Vladimir Putin, Trump repeated the Russian leader’s denials about involvement in the election.

Trump said of Putin: “He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

Trump commented after holding hours of private talks with Putin.


7 p.m.

President Vladimir Putin says that Moscow and Washington could jointly conduct criminal investigations into Russian intelligence officials accused of hacking during the 2016 U.S. election campaign.

Asked if Russia could extradite 12 Russian military intelligence officers indicted in the U.S. last week on charges of hacking into the Democratic election campaign, Putin challenged the U.S. to take advantage of a 1999 agreement envisaging mutual legal assistance.

He said the agreement would allow U.S. officials to request that Russian authorities interrogate the 12 suspects, adding that U.S. officials could request to be present in such interrogations.

Putin noted that Russia would expect the U.S. to return the favor and cooperate in the Russian probe against William Browder, a British investor charged of financial crimes in Russia. Browder was a driving force behind a U.S. law targeting Russian officials over human rights abuses.

Putin spoke after a summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in Helsinki on Monday.


7 p.m.

President Donald Trump says Russian President Vladimir Putin made an “incredible offer” to allow Russian and U.S. investigators to work together on allegations of Russian cyber attacks.

Trump says Putin suggested the U.S. provide its intelligence to the Russian military so Russia can determine the truth of what happened.

Trump says he has “great confidence” in his intelligence agencies who have concluded Russia interfered in the election. But Trump says Putin was “incredibly strong and powerful today” in his contention that Russia had nothing to do with election interference.

The two presidents spoke during a joint news conference following talks in Helsinki.


6:55 p.m.

President Donald Trump says the Russia investigation has been a “disaster” for the United States and has kept America and Russia “separated.”

Speaking during a joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, he reiterates that there was “no collusion” between his campaign and the Russian government.

Trump says he ran a “clean campaign” and he beat his Democratic presidential rival Hillary Clinton “easily.” The president says it’s a “shame” there is a cloud over his administration. He says he ran a “brilliant campaign and that’s why I’m president.”

Putin is pushing back against claims that his government interfered in the U.S. election. He says there’s “no evidence when it comes to the actual facts.”


6:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump and Russian leader Vladimir Putin say they are exploring ways to protect Israel from conflict raging near its border in Syria.

The two leaders did not commit to any specific actions, but both said that ensuring Israel’s security was a priority.

Israel is deeply concerned about Iran’s presence in Syria, where Iranian forces and proxies have been fighting on behalf of the Syrian government, which is also supported by Russia.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has appealed to both Trump and Putin to eliminate the Iranian presence, which the Jewish state regards as an existential threat.


6:45 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says he and U.S. President Donald Trump have agreed to continue detailed discussions on arms control issues.

Putin said Russia and the U.S. should discuss a possible extension of the 2010 New START nuclear arms reduction treaty and the implementation of the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty.

Putin added that other issues that Russia would like to discuss in the arms control sphere are the U.S. missile defense plans and the weaponization of space.

He spoke at their joint news conference wrapping up the Helsinki summit.


6:40 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he means it as a compliment when he says Russian President Vladimir Putin is a “competitor.”

Trump says: “I think the word competitor is a compliment.”

He spoke at a joint news conference in Finland with the Russian leader after their summit in Helsinki. Many in the U.S. disagree with Trump. They say Putin is an adversary and note his country’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Trump, asked about a Russian gas pipeline to Germany, noted that the U.S. and Russia compete in the energy market.

Trump criticized the pipeline during an earlier stop on his weeklong visit to Europe.


6:40 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has praised President Donald Trump for this efforts to resolve nuclear tensions with North Korea.

Speaking at a news conference after their meeting in Helsinki, Putin said: “It’s good that the gradual resolution of the problem of the Korean Peninsula has begun.”

He continued, saying: “In many respects, this became possible due to the fact that President Trump personally got involved in the resolution, building dialogue in the spirt of cooperation, not confrontation.”


6:35 p.m.

President Donald Trump says in a statement that he directly addressed meddling by Russia in the 2016 U.S. election with Russian President Vladimir Putin. But the U.S. president is not condemning Moscow’s conduct publicly.

Trump says during a joint news conference that his message was “best delivered in person.” He says he “spent a great deal of time” talking about election meddling and Putin feels strongly about it and “has an interesting idea.”

The president did not elaborate on Putin’s idea. Putin said before Trump spoke that Moscow never interfered and will never interfere in the American electoral process.

The summit comes days after the U.S. indictment of 12 alleged Russian military intelligence agents for sophisticated hacking in the 2016 election.


6:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump says the United States and Russia must find ways to “cooperate in pursuit of shared interests.”

Trump says a productive dialogue between the U.S. and Russia is good for both countries and “is good for the world.”

Speaking in Finland after a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump says they discussed disagreements between their countries “at length.”

Trump adds that relations between the U.S. and Russia have never been worse. He adds that he thinks that “changed as of about four hours ago.”

He says he’s sure that he and Putin will meet again often in the future.


6:25 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the “so-called Russian interference” in the U.S. 2016 presidential election was brought up by President Donald Trump during their summit in Helsinki.

Speaking at a joint news conference, Putin said: “I had to repeat that the Russian state never interfered, and does not plan to interfere in internal American electoral process.”

In general, he said, the talks with Trump took place in an “open and businesslike atmosphere” and he characterized them as “successful and useful.”


6 p.m.

Britain’s prime minister has launched a strong verbal attack on Russia even as President Donald Trump is sitting down with his Russian counterpart at the Helsinki summit.

Theresa May told Parliament Monday that Russia’s leadership is committed to trying to undermine Western values on a number of fronts.

She condemned what she claims was Russia’s use of a lethal nerve agent inside Britain, its shielding of the Syrian government, its support of Iran, and the spreading of “malicious fake news” on an industrial scale.

May says she “welcomes” the summit but wants to see a change in Russia’s actions.

She was reporting on last week’s NATO summit, which was dominated by Trump’s call for allies to spend more on defense.

May backed this view, calling for spending hikes.


4:50 p.m.

Even before U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin sat down Monday, Russia's government signaled that the two leaders were on the same page.

Russia's Foreign Ministry tweeted "we agree" in reaction to Trump's morning tweet criticizing U.S. "foolishness and stupidity" for the state of relations between the two countries.

Trump's tweet says: "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 has promised to raise Russian election meddling with Putin, but he did not do so publicly when he discussed the agenda as they first met on Monday.

The two presidents are set to hold a joint press conference later in the day.


4:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he and Russian President Vladimir Putin have had a "good start" to their high-stakes summit in Finland.

Trump is calling his meeting with Putin "a good start, a very good start for everybody" as the two leaders and their top advisers sat across the table from one another during a luncheon. It followed more than two hours of one-on-one discussions involving just the U.S. and Russian leaders, with only translators present.

The White House had scheduled 90 minutes for that meeting.

Trump was joined at the luncheon by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman and other top aides.

After the lunch, Trump and Putin will appear for a joint news conference in Helsinki.


4:10 p.m.

The one-on-one meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin is running overtime and has now passed the two-hour mark.

A Finnish official said the two leaders were still meeting as of 4:09 p.m., two hours after they began their meeting in the Gothic Hall of the Presidential Palace in Helsinki. The White House had scheduled 90 minutes for the meeting, in which only translators are present.

It's not the first time the presidents' talks have gone long. In their first meeting last year, they ended up talking for more than two hours. Midway through, first lady Melania Trump was sent in to help wrap things up. Trump and Putin continued to talk for another hour.


2:35 p.m.

President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin are meeting privately, joined only by translators, in the Finnish Presidential Palace.

The two leaders entered the Gothic Hall with serious expressions, moving quickly to two ornate wooden chairs set before American and Russian flags. Trump sat upright as Putin appeared to lounge in his chair.

Trump deferred to Putin to make opening remarks, nodding along as his comments in Russian were translated. Trump predicted that the pair will have an "extraordinary relationship."

Trump initiated a brief handshake with Putin, as the assembled press jostled to capture the moment.

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


2:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump says at the start of his summit with Russia's President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki that he thinks "the world wants to see us get along."

Trump says the two countries have "great opportunities," saying they have not been getting along for the past few years. He says he thinks they can have an "extraordinary relationship."

He says their discussions will involve trade, the military, missiles, nuclear weapons and others. He did not mention Russia's meddling in the U.S. election.

The two leaders were seated together in a room adorned by American and Russian flags at the Finnish Presidential Palace, separated by a small table.

The meeting started about 45 minutes late following Putin's delayed arrival to Finland.


2:15 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says it's time to talk seriously with President Donald Trump about relations between their powerful nations and global problems.

Putin revealed little about his agenda in terse remarks at the start of talks with Trump in Helsinki.

While Trump spoke more extensively amid incessant clicks of cameras, Putin said only that "the time has come to talk thoroughly about bilateral relations as well as various hotspots in the world." He called the meeting part of "continued constant contacts" between the men.

Putin looked serious but smirked when journalists asked Trump about Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential campaign. Trump refused to answer.

He and Trump shook hands briefly and headed into talks, which are being closely watched around the world.


2 p.m.

President Donald Trump has arrived at Finland's Presidential Palace for a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Putin arrived minutes earlier at the palace in Helsinki for the summit, which consists of a one-on-one meeting and a larger working lunch, and will conclude with a joint news conference.

Monday's meeting is being closely watched on both sides of the Atlantic, coming days after the U.S. Justice Department indicted 12 Russian military intelligence officers for their role in hacking Democratic entities during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Trump says he hopes for better relations with the Russian leader. He faces bipartisan skepticism in Washington that his desire for warming ties is displacing concerns over Russia's annexation of Crimea and other destabilizing actions.

(Top image: US President Donald Trump (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin are pictured ahead a meeting in Helsinki, on July 16, 2018. /AFP)

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