Putin, Trump agree to improve ties: Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during an international conference dedicated to the 175th anniversary of Sberbank in Moscow, Russia, on Nov 10, 2016.
Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during an international conference dedicated to the 175th anniversary of Sberbank in Moscow, Russia, on Nov 10, 2016. PHOTO: EPA

MOSCOW • Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President-elect Donald Trump spoke by telephone for the first time on Monday, agreeing to review what both consider the poor state of relations between the two countries, according to a statement from the Kremlin.

The two agreed "on the absolutely unsatisfactory state of bilateral relations", said the statement, and they both endorsed the idea of undertaking joint efforts "to normalise relations and pursue constructive cooperation on the broadest possible range of issues".

The issues discussed included trade and economic ties as well as combating terrorism.

Mr Putin was one of the first world leaders to congratulate Mr Trump on his election victory last Wednesday, but the two men have not met nor had they spoken previously.The Russian President said he hoped that Moscow could build a "collaborative dialogue" with Washington on the bases of "equality, mutual respect and non-interference in the other's internal affairs", the release said.

The two men also discussed Syria in the context of "the need to work together in the struggle against the No. 1 common enemy - international terrorism and extremism", the statement said.

Although Mr Putin maintained studied neutrality during the presidential race, the state-run news media, which answers to him, clearly pulled for Mr Trump.

Among other issues, Mr Putin blames Democratic contender Hillary Clinton, then Secretary of State, for the mass demonstrations that greeted his return to the presidency in 2012.

During the campaign, senior US security officials accused Russia of hacking the computers at the Democratic National Committee headquarters and releasing e-mails that proved embarrassing to the Clinton campaign. Mr Putin denied any state role in the hacking.

NY TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 16, 2016, with the headline 'Putin, Trump agree to improve ties: Kremlin'. Print Edition | Subscribe