A joint statement on Syria followed their first meeting since July at a time that US-Russia relations have been battered and Trump is haunted by allegations that Putin meddled in last year’s election that brought him to the White House.
Their statement called for a political solution to Syria’s conflict and said they would continue joint efforts to fight Islamic State. Trump said it would save “tremendous numbers of lives”.
“We did it very quickly,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One after leaving the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in the resort of Danang for Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital. “We seem to have a very good feeling for each other, a good relationship considering we don’t know each other well.”
Talking after their meeting, Putin described Trump as “a well-mannered person and comfortable to deal with”.
“We know each other little, but the US president is highly civil in his behavior, friendly. We have a normal dialogue but unfortunately little time,” he said.
Scheduling and unspecified protocol issues were to blame for the fact that a mooted sit-down meeting did not happen in Danang, he said. Trump said they had two or three very short conversations.
The Kremlin had sought a one-on-one meeting ahead of the summit. Although the White House had said no official meeting was planned, it had also said it was possible they would bump into each other.
The sight of Trump sitting down with Putin in public also revives the issue of Russian meddling in last year’s US presidential election. Trump said Putin had told him again that he hadn’t meddled in the election.
“I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it,” Trump said of the accusations. “I think he’s very insulted by it, which is not a good thing for our country.”
North Korea,” he added. “If Russia helped us in addition to China that problem would go away a lot faster.”
The Kremlin said the statement on Syria was coordinated by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson especially for the meeting in Danang.
They confirmed their commitment to Syria’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity and called on all parties to the Syrian conflict to take an active part in the Geneva political process, it said. Reuters