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21 Mar, 2016 23:23

Trump: ‘I want to get along with Russia’

Donald Trump, the Republican front-runner for the 2016 presidential nomination, said he favors better relations with Russia and the rest of the world. He also questioned the need to spend a “fortune” on NATO, advocating a non-interventionist foreign policy.

READ MORE: ‘End of Europe’: Trump slams Merkel’s refugee policy, wants good relations with Russia

Trump held a press conference in Washington, DC on Monday afternoon against the backdrop of a hotel he is building at the Old Post Office just blocks from the White House, which he hopes to occupy come January 2017. He is scheduled to address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference later in the day.

Asked by RT’s Caleb Maupin if he wanted a better relationship with Russia, Trump seemed open to the idea.

“I want a better relationship with everybody. And with Russia, yeah,” he said. “If we can get along with Russia, that’s very good.”

“[Russian president Vladimir] Putin says very nice things about me. I think that’s very nice. It has no effect on me, other than I think it’s very nice,” the Republican front-runner added.

On the subject of Russia’s military operation in Syria, which was scaled back last week after President Putin declared that its main objectives had been accomplished, Trump appeared a lot more enthusiastic than White House officials.

“If Russia wants to spend millions of dollars a day dropping bombs on ISIS, I’m OK with that,” he said, referring to the Islamic State terror group. “Some people don’t like it. They say ‘No, no, that’s our job.’ It’s not our job. Let Russia… if they want to do that, I’m all for it.”

Trump then digressed into condemning the US loans that were extended to China while that country was building up its military bases in the South China Sea, before concluding that under his leadership, the US would do better in the world.

“I want to get along with all countries. And we will,” he concluded.

‘NATO, military deployments costing US a fortune’

In an interview with the Washington Post on Monday, Trump revealed the names of his foreign policy advisors and his “unabashedly noninterventionist” approach to world affairs. He spoke against engaging in expensive nation-building projects around the world while the US infrastructure is disintegrating, and questioned the wisdom of conducting massive troop buildups in Europe and East Asia.

READ MORE: Jeb Bush suspends campaign as Trump secures solid win in South Carolina

“We certainly can’t afford to do this anymore,” Trump said, later adding, “NATO is costing us a fortune, and yes, we’re protecting Europe with NATO, but we’re spending a lot of money.”

The billionaire businessman also had some harsh words for NATO’s European members concerning the conflict in Ukraine.

READ MORE: ‘Putin killed reporters? Prove it!’ – Trump to ABC show host

“Ukraine is a country that affects us far less than it affects other countries in NATO, and yet we’re doing all of the lifting,” Trump said. “Why is it that Germany’s not dealing with NATO on Ukraine? Why is it that other countries that are in the vicinity of Ukraine, why aren’t they dealing? Why are we always the one that’s leading, potentially the Third World War with Russia.”

Sending the Washington establishment into shock once again, Trump dismissed the idea that the US benefited from its military deployments all over the planet. “I think we were a very powerful, very wealthy country, and we are a poor country now. We’re a debtor nation.”

Trump’s foreign policy team is led by Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions and includes retired General J. Keith Kellogg, Walid Phares, George Papadopoulos, Carter Page, and Joseph E. Schmitz.

Papadopoulos previously worked at the Hudson Institute, a conservative think-tank in Washington that is often critical of Russia and its leadership, while Page was a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations focusing on the Caspian Sea region and the economic development in former Soviet states, according to the Post.