Putin Says Moscow Seeking Improved Ties with Washington, Warns of Countermeasures
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Putin Says Moscow Seeking Improved Ties with Washington, Warns of Countermeasures

Putin made the remarks during a news conference at the G20 summit in Japan’s Osaka on Saturday after meeting his American counterpart Donald Trump. The Russian leader said his country will do all it can to improve relations with the US but will take countermeasures if somebody acts against it by imposing more sanctions. In a statement released via a press pool report, the White House said the two leaders met for 80 minutes on Friday and the meeting appeared to show some bilateral expectations had been fulfilled. “Both leaders agreed that improved relations between the United States and Russia was in each countries’ mutual interest and the interest of the world,” the statement read. “The leaders also discussed the situations in Iran, Syria, Venezuela, and Ukraine.” The Kremlin said Putin had invited Trump to attend next year festivities marking the 75th anniversary of the World War II victory and he responded “positively.” The meeting was the first face-to-face discussion between Putin and Trump since a Helsinki summit last July, during which the American head of state refused to allow any advisers to join him and declined to share details of the meeting with Congress. Trump canceled his last planned meeting with Putin at the G20 in Argentina in November 2018, after Russia seized two intruding Ukrainian vessels and their crew in the Sea of Azov. White House National Security Adviser John Bolton announced earlier in the month that Trump was looking forward to meeting with his Russian counterpart on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka. The meeting comes against the backdrop of pressure on Trump at home over his campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia in the 2016 US presidential election. Trump’s opponents have accused him of being friendly with Putin during the previous meetings and censured him for confronting the Russian leader over the election-meddling allegations. US intelligence agencies have claimed Moscow meddled in the election with a campaign of email hacking and online propaganda aimed at sowing discord in the United States, hurting then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and helping Trump. US special counsel Robert Mueller, a former FBI director, had been examining since May 2017 whether Trump’s election campaign colluded with Moscow to try to influence the 2016 presidential election and whether he later unlawfully tried to obstruct his investigation. Both Trump and Russia have repeatedly denied the accusations. Trump has sought to discredit the investigation, calling it a “witch hunt” and accusing Mueller of conflicts of interest. On March 22, Mueller submitted his confidential report to US Attorney General William Barr, triggering calls from lawmakers in Congress for the document’s quick release. A redacted version of Mueller’s report published in April did not establish a criminal conspiracy between Trump aids and Moscow to sway the outcome of the election. The US has already introduced several rounds of sanctions against Moscow for Russia’s alleged meddling in the US democratic process and its involvement in the Ukrainian conflict.

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