Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump agreed to try to rebuild U.S.-Russia ties and to cooperate in Syria, the Kremlin said on Saturday, after the two men spoke for the first time since Trump’s inauguration.
U.S.-Russia relations hit a post-Cold War low under the Barack Obama administration and Trump has made clear he wants a rapprochement with Moscow if he can get along with Putin, who says he is also keen to mend ties.
“Both sides demonstrated a mood for active, joint work on stabilizing and developing Russian-American cooperation,” the Kremlin said in a statement, adding that Putin and Trump had agreed to work on setting up their first meeting.
“The chat took place in a positive and business-like tone.”
Trump’s stance on Russia has been under intense scrutiny from critics who say he was elected with help from Russian intelligence agencies, a charge he denies. His detractors have also accused him of being too eager to make an ally of Putin.
For Putin, who faces possible re-election next year, an easing of U.S. sanctions imposed on Moscow over its role in the Ukraine crisis would be a major coup.
But the Kremlin made no mention of the subject being discussed, referring only to the two underlining the importance of restoring mutually-beneficial trade and economic ties.
Trump said on Friday he was only in the early stages of considering whether to lift the sanctions, as British Prime Minister Theresa May, other foreign officials and U.S. lawmakers cautioned that such a move would be premature.
The most tangible outcome of the phone call, as the Kremlin described it, appeared to be what it said was an understanding that jointly fighting international terrorism was a priority and that the two nations should cooperate in Syria.
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