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13 Jul, 2018 17:16

We consider Trump partner, not 'competitor' - Putin's adviser

We consider Trump partner, not 'competitor' - Putin's adviser

When asked what the Kremlin thinks about Donald Trump calling Vladimir Putin a 'competitor,’ the Russian president’s adviser said that Moscow considers the US president to be a 'partner.'

Yury Ushakov told journalists ahead of the forthcoming summit in Helsinki that having the meeting itself is important for establishing "the chemistry of relations" between the two leaders.

“The goal of this meeting, as we see it, is to finally start changing the negative situation in relations between the US and Russia for the better,” Ushakov said, adding that it should involve “some concrete steps aimed at … bringing mutual trust to some acceptable level.”

The Russian president’s top aide for international relations also told journalists that Moscow and Washington actually have no compelling reasons for confrontation at the moment.

“Our relations have lately obviously been in a crisis,” he said, but the tensions “have no objective causes” as the two nations actually face common challenges, from international terrorism to non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and regional conflicts.

“The Russian side has repeatedly demonstrated its readiness to work on mending bilateral ties with the US,” Ushakov said, adding that such dialog should be based on the principles of equality and mutual respect to the interests of both nations.

Ushakov reiterated that Russia has never interfered in the US elections and had never intended to do so.

“I would like to state it once again, ahead of the forthcoming meeting, that the Russian state has never interfered and is not going to interfere in the internal affairs, not to mention the election process, of the US,” the Kremlin official said.

If Washington has any evidence of Russian meddling, Moscow is ready to discuss this issue, Ushakov said. One possible venue for that could have been the joint US-Russian panel on cyber-security, which was discussed by Putin and Trump at the G20 summit in Hamburg last year, but came to nothing due to reluctance from the US.

Moscow is concerned about attempts by US officials who oppose better relations between the US and Russia to “speculate” on the “fictitiously trumped-up” topic of alleged Russian meddling, Ushakov said.

US efforts to build up its ever-expanding global missile defense system will be one of the key topics of the meeting. Ushakov added that the two leaders will also discuss other issues related to arms buildup and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Another major topic will be Syria. Ushakov said that “it is important both for Russia and the US to cooperate in the process of the Syrian crisis reconciliation.”

Other possible topics for the Helsinki summit include Iran and North Korea, as well as the crisis in Ukraine.

Two leaders are not expected to issue a joint statement following the summit. Instead, they are likely to present separate statements during a press conference, Ushakov said, adding that he personally believes it would be “the most realistic outcome.”

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