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President Putin gives a World Cup football to President Trump after their talks during the press conference at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, on July 16, 2018. Picture: Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva

“Our relationship has never been worse than it is now,” said the US President Donald Trump. “However, that changed as of about four hours ago. I really believe that.” President Trump was speaking at the press conference in the Presidential Palace in Helsinki after talking with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, for two hours late on Monday afternoon.

The presidents exchanged thoughts about nuclear weapons, Russia’s supposed interference in the US elections, Syria, terrorism—many, if not all, hot topics in foreign politics recently.


According to Putin, the meeting marked the first steps to restore “an acceptable level of trust and go back to previous level of interaction on all mutual interest issues.”

A firm handshake. Picture: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva

About Russia’s interference in the US elections in 2016

Trump said: “I addressed directly [the question of] Russian interference in our elections. We spent a great deal of time talking about it. Putin feels strongly about the issue and has an interesting idea.”

Putin responded: “[Trump] touched upon the theme of Russia’s so-called meddling [in the 2016 U.S. election]. I had to repeat what I’ve said before, that the Russian state has never interfered and has no intention to interfere.”

About Syria

Trump said: “We also discussed at length the crisis in Syria. Co-operation between our countries has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of lives.

Putin said: “As far as Syria is concerned the task of establishing peace and reconciliation in this country could be the first showcase example of successful joint work.”

About terrorism

Trump said: “We also discussed the scourge of radical Islamic terrorism that Russia and the United States have suffered. We will maintain open communication between our security agencies to fight this global menace.”

Putin said: “We favor the continued cooperation in counter-terrorism and maintaining cyber-security. In general, the context among the special services should be put to a system-wide basis—should be brought to a systemic framework. I recall I reminded President Trump about this suggestion to re-establish the working group on anti-terrorism.”

About nuclear weapons

Trump said: We have 90 percent of nuclear power between the two countries. It’s ridiculous.”

Putin said: “As major nuclear powers, we bear special responsibility for maintaining international security. It’s crucial that we fine-tune the dialogue on strategic stability and global security and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We submitted our American colleagues a note with a number of specific suggestions.”

In conclusion

Trump said: “We also agreed that representatives from our national security councils will meet to follow up on all of the issues we addressed today, and to continue the progress we have started right here in Helsinki.”

And Putin nodded.