World|politics|March 22, 2018 / 11:16 AM
Trump defends congratulatory phone call to Putin

AKIPRESS.COM - U.S. President Donald Trump defended his congratulations to Vladimir Putin on the Russian president’s disputed re-election victory on Wednesday, saying he wants Putin’s help in solving crises from North Korea to Syria and beyond, Reuters reported.

Trump drew fire from Republicans and Democrats alike for telling reporters on Tuesday that he had congratulated Putin on his re-election and that the two leaders had made tentative plans to meet in the “not too distant future.”

The Washington Post reported that Trump, in his briefing papers to prepare for the phone call with Putin on Tuesday, was specifically warned “DO NOT CONGRATULATE” the Russian president. White House officials did not dispute the report, but said whoever leaked it could be subject to dismissal.

A Trump confidant who asked not to be named said Trump was angry about the leak, and a White House official said John Kelly, Trump’s chief of staff, was “frustrated and deeply disappointed.”

In a pair of tweets on his call with Putin, Trump said U.S. news organizations “wanted me to excoriate him. They are wrong! Getting along with Russia (and others) is a good thing, not a bad thing.”

“They can help solve problems with North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, ISIS, Iran and even the coming Arms Race,” Trump said.

Trump’s congratulations to Putin, which came shortly after he joined Britain in blaming Russia for a poison nerve gas attack against a former Russian spy in southern England, has revived criticism that Trump has been too tolerant of the Russian leader.

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