Putin says Trump phone call signals intent to rebuild relations

Sergio Conner
May 16, 2019

Putin said he had spoken to U.S. President Donald Trump several days ago, and he got the impression that Trump indeed "intends to rebuild U.S". Putin said he hopes the conditions now exist to fully restore relations now that the Mueller investigation is over.

"President Trump wants to do everything we can and he asked me to travel here to communicate that".

LUCIAN KIM, BYLINE: Hi, Ari.

Pompeo's trip comes a few weeks ahead of a Group of 20 summit meeting June 28-29 in Osaka, Japan, with both Putin and President Trump expected to attend.

In response, Lavrov reiterated the Kremlin's claims that Russian Federation did not interfere in the 2016 presidential election or any other campaign.

KIM: Yes, he did.

But Pompeo told reporters Tuesday he thinks USA and Russian officials "now can begin to work together" in a way to begin the process set out in a U.N. Security Council resolution that calls for a Syrian-led political transition with a cease-fire, new constitution and elections. And Pompeo told Lavrov he had come to Sochi because Trump is committed to a better relationship.

"We've played our part", Putin said.

Russian officials, meanwhile, have said they are eager to extend the New START accord, governing U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear weapons, which expires in 2021. And this is a very serious agreement that they have.

Washington a year ago pulled out of a nuclear deal backed by Europe, Russia and China, which curbed Iran's nuclear ambitions in return for sanctions relief. Pompeo said in the news conference that Trump remains interested in bringing other countries, including China, into an arms-control framework - an idea that has drawn skepticism in Moscow. And he did say that the USA does not want to have war. Sergey Lavrov said the Middle East is already tense enough and that Russian Federation would continue working with the Europeans and Chinese to get out of this crisis. He later called on "every country that's interfering in Venezuela to cease doing that".

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The two sides described the talks as "frank, " saying that they wanted to improve relations strained for years over the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine and more recently over strategic arms control and US efforts to oust Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro. Russian Federation stands by President Nicolas Maduro.

He also said the two sides disagree on Venezuela and urged Russian Federation to end its support for President Nicolas Maduro. But, crucially, both sides have fervently downplayed the possibility of warfare.

Given all that, one can hardly rule out the possibility that the young and fiery Kim might once again become the "rocket man" amid the ongoing impasse with the USA, and flex his military muscles in order to force both Washington and Seoul to take his demands more seriously. American negotiators might believe Putin's price will go down if he sees Maduro as an increasingly poor investment.

"This has nothing in common with democracy", Lavrov said.

Showing the depths of the disagreement over Venezuela, Lavrov countered, "Democracy can not be done by force".

SHAPIRO: So did they note any progress on any of these issues?

While it's uncertain whether such criticism was directed at Pompeo or actually at Trump himself, Kim is apparently frustrated or probably even angry at the current state of affairs.

"We had a very productive conversation on pathways forward in Syria, things we can do together where we have a shared set of interests on how to move the political process forward", Pompeo told reporters at the airport before leaving.

Pompeo said in televised remarks at the meeting on Tuesday that he came to Russian Federation because President Donald Trump was "committed to improve this relationship" despite differences between the United States and Russian Federation on Syria, Iran, the crisis in Venezuela, and other matters.

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