The meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin has happened under a dark cloud of geopolitical issues of which the list keeps on growing. Critical issues that were needed to be discussed ranged from Crimea, to North Korea, to Russian meddling in the U.S. elections. Eyes from across the world were on the discussion between the two nations who hold between them the biggest nuclear arsenal in the world.
The press conference post the long-meeting which included a delayed working lunch revealed what the two leaders thought about the discussions. Here’s what the two said on the various issues discussed.
Trump: Putin is a "good competitor"A reporter asked President Trump about comments he made describing Russian President Vladimir Putin as an adversary. Trump said he called Putin a “competitor" and he is a “good one.” The context was Trump’s comments a few days ago when he said Germany was in the grips of his adversary as the country was completely dependent on Russia for its gas needs.
On Russian election meddling in 2016 U.S. Presidential elections: Trump declined to endorse the U.S. intelligence community's assessment that Russia interfered in the election, saying Putin was "extremely strong and powerful" in his denial. Instead, the U.S. president repeatedly asked about the Democratic National Committee's email server and Hillary Clinton's missing emails. “Where are those servers? They're missing. Where are they? What happened to Hillary Clinton's emails?”
President Trump also insisted, again there was no collusion and that he ran a "clean campaign." "There was no collusion at all. Everybody knows it," Trump said. He said special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election has had a "negative impact" on the US-Russia relationship. "It's ridiculous. It's ridiculous what's going on with the probe," Trump said.
U.S. – Russia Bilateral: Trump said he feels that the previous U.S. and Russia have "both made some mistakes." "I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. We’ve all been foolish," Trump said. "We should have frankly had this dialogue a long time ago. I think that we're all to blame. I think that the United States has now stepped forward along with Russia." President Trump said his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin had significantly improved the relationship between the two countries. He also that while the U.S.-Russia relationship "has never been worse than it is now," he believes that has now "changed" after his summit with Putin.
Putin: Russia has never interfered in U.S. elections
Putin said Trump raised the issue, something the US President had promised to do. "Once again, President Trump mentioned issue of the so-called interference of Russia with the American elections," Putin said. "I had to reiterate things I said several times, including during our personal contacts, that the Russian state has never interfered and is not going to interfere in internal American affairs, including election process."
Iran Nuclear Deal: Russian President Vladimir Putin said he expressed his concern over President Trump's decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. "We also mentioned our concern about the withdrawal of the United States from the JCPOA," Putin said. "Thanks to the Iranian nuclear deal, Iran had become most controlled country in the world."
U.S.-Russia Bilateral is complicated: Putin acknowledged the U.S.-Russia relationship has been complicated. "It's clear to everyone that the bilateral relationship is going through a complicated stage," Putin said. "Yet those impediments, the current tension, the tense atmosphere essentially have no solid reason behind it."
Compromising Material on Trump: It has long been rumoured the Russian government has some sort of compromising material concerning Donald Trump. However the Russian President laughed off the idea of 'compromising material'. On being asked about it directly, Putin said he doesn't have anything". He also told reporters he did not even know Trump, then a businessman, was in the country.