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Putin accuses ‘powerful forces in US’ of undermining summit with Trump

world Updated: Jul 19, 2018 23:47 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
Vladimir Putin,Donald Trump,US-Russia summit

US President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a joint news conference after their meeting in Helsinki, Finland.(REUTERS)

President Vladimir Putin on Thursday accused forces in the United States of trying to undermine the success of his first summit with Donald Trump, even as the US president said he was looking forward to a second meeting with the Russian leader.

Putin, speaking to Russian diplomats from around the world assembled in Moscow, said his Helsinki summit with Trump on Monday had been successful. “It was successful overall and led to some useful agreements. Of course, let’s see how events will develop further,” he said, without disclosing the nature of the agreements he referred to.

However, he said, “powerful” US forces were trying to sabotage what the summit had achieved. “We see that there are forces in the United States that are prepared to casually sacrifice Russian-US relations, to sacrifice them for their ambitions in an internal political battle in the United States,” he said.

Later on Thursday, Trump defended the summit, tweeting: “The Summit with Russia was a great success, except with the real enemy of the people, the Fake News Media. I look forward to our second meeting so that we can start implementing some of the many things discussed.”

According to Trump, he and Putin discussed a variety of issues, including “stopping terrorism, security for Israel, nuclear proliferation, cyber attacks, trade, Ukraine, Middle East peace, North Korea and more”.

Trump continues to face questions about his performance at a news briefing after the Monday summit in Helsinki, in which he appeared to side with Putin Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election and going against the finding of his own intelligence agencies.

Republicans and Democrats are grappling with Trump’s ever changing, conflicting statements about the summit.

On Monday, he said that he believed Putin did not order the meddling. When asked if he believed the findings of his intelligence agencies on Russia’s meddling, Trump had said: “My people came to me. They said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this – I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

On Tuesday, Trump appeared to walk back those remarks, saying: “I said the word ‘would’ instead of ‘wouldn’t.’ ... The sentence should have been ‘I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t,’ or ‘why it wouldn’t be Russia.’”

However, on Wednesday, he had said that he didn’t believe Russia was still targeting the US — a direct contradiction of the assessments of his intelligence agencies that Moscow was continuing its attempts to meddle in American elections.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders later clarified that Trump administration believed the interference was ongoing and that it was doing more than previous administrations to stop it.

Even as his aides struggled to cope with the outrage that Trump’s statement caused, he came up with his strongest statement yet against Putin. Speaking to CBS, he said he holds Putin personally responsible for the Russian meddling and had told him during their meeting that “we can’t have this, we’re not going to have it”.

Asked if he would hold Putin personally responsible, he said, “Well, I would, because he’s in charge of the country. Just like I consider myself to be responsible for things that happen in this country.”

(With agency inputs)

First Published: Jul 19, 2018 23:45 IST