Trump, Putin discuss 'Russian Hoax'

WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump has discussed the "Russian Hoax" with President Vladimir Putin of Russia in their first conversation since the release of a report that found "the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion".

In a pair of midday tweets last Friday, Mr Trump said he and Mr Putin had a "long and very good conversation" in a phone call that lasted over an hour and covered a wide range of issues, including trade, nuclear arms control, Ukraine, North Korea and Venezuela.

Coming shortly after the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report, which documented Russian efforts to tilt the election in Mr Trump's favour but did not find him or his aides guilty of conspiring with Moscow, the phone call appeared to be an effort to turn the page on the entire affair.

"As I have always said, long before the Witch Hunt started, getting along with Russia, China, and everyone is a good thing, not a bad thing," Mr Trump declared.

The two leaders pledged to deliver humanitarian aid to Venezuela and vowed to boost trade between the United States and Russia. They also talked about a potential three-way deal on nuclear arms that could include China.

President Trump made no mention of his and Mr Putin's differences over North Korea in describing the call.

Mr Putin, who met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vladivostok, Russia, on April 25, appears to be positioning himself as a player in the nuclear negotiations.

Just hours after the call, North Korea launched several short-range projectiles, which followed the mid-April test of what Pyongyang called a "tactical guided weapon".

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 05, 2019, with the headline 'Trump, Putin discuss 'Russian Hoax''. Print Edition | Subscribe