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Trump hails 'very good start' with Putin at first summit
[HELSINKI] Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin held a historic summit on Monday vowing their determination to forge a reset of troubled relations between the world's greatest nuclear powers.
Mr Trump, bent on forging a personal bond with the Kremlin chief despite allegations of Russian meddling in US politics, went into the summit blaming the "stupidity" of his predecessors for plunging ties to their present low.
"I think it's a good start: very, very good start for everybody," the US leader told reporters after meeting Mr Putin for more than two hours with just their interpreters present, and just before they were joined by their national security teams.
Many in Washington were agog at Mr Trump's decision to sit one-on-one with Putin, a former KGB spymaster, worried about what he might bargain away after previously cosying up to the autocratic leaders of China and North Korea.
Indeed, some domestic critics wanted the Helsinki summit called off entirely after 12 Russian military agents were indicted under a long-running probe into Moscow's alleged manipulation of the 2016 US elections.
But Mr Trump, convinced his unique brand of diplomacy can make inroads with Mr Putin, pressed ahead and looked forward to "having an extraordinary relationship" as the pair sat down to discuss everything from Syria, Ukraine and China to trade tariffs and the size of their nuclear arsenals.
Mr Putin, basking in congratulations from Mr Trump and other world leaders for the successful staging of the World Cup in Russia, said: "The time has come to talk in a substantive way about our relations and problem areas of the world."
Mr Trump added: "Frankly, we have not been getting along for the last number of years. And I really think the world wants to see us get along. We are the two great nuclear powers."
"Negotiations with Trump took place in an open and constructive atmosphere, I find them rather successful and useful," Mr Putin added.
"It is obvious to everyone that international relations have lived through a difficult period ... The Cold War has ended a long time ago, the situation in the world has drastically changed. Russia and the United States are now facing totally different challenges."
Mr Putin said the meeting marked the first steps to restore "an acceptable level of trust and go back to previous level of interaction on all mutual interest issues".
"As far as Syria is concerned the task of establishing peace and reconciliation in this country could be the first showcase example of successful joint work."
"The United States could convince the Ukrainian leadership to fulfil the Minsk (peace) accords."
Mr Putin also referred to Russia's so-called meddling (in the 2016 US election)."I had to repeat what I've said before, that the Russian state has never interfered and has no intention to interfere."
"We have offered to consider building the philosophy of bilateral relations for the long term."
"We have good talks, we started to understand each other better."