Highlights: Trump and Putin speak after meeting in Helsinki

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HELSINKI (Reuters) – Donald Trump met one-on-one with Russia’s Vladimir Putin behind closed doors on Monday in a long-awaited summit overshadowed by the U.S. president blaming his own country’s past “foolishness and stupidity” for the two powers’ hostile ties.

Following are highlights of comments made by Trump and Putin at a news conference after their meeting in Finland’s capital Helsinki.

TRUMP’S OPENING REMARKS

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“We discussed a wide range of critical issues for both our countries. We had a productive dialogue, it went very well.”

“I want to congratulate Russian President Putin for hosting one of the best ever World Cups. A great job.”

“We’re here today to extend the proud tradition of bold American diplomacy. Diplomacy and engagement are preferable to conflict and hostility … It’s not only good for (the United States) and Russia but good for the world.”

“If we are going to solve many of the problems facing our world, we will have to find ways to cooperate … We have seen the consequences when diplomacy is left on the table.”

“Our relationship has never been worse than it is now, however that changed as of about four hours ago. Refusing to engage will not accomplish anything.”

“I will not make decisions on foreign policy to appease the media or Democrats who want to do nothing but resist and obstruct. I would rather take a political risk in pursuit of peace than risk peace in pursuit of politics.

“I will do what is best for the American people”.

“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.”

“We discussed nuclear proliferation. After today I am sure we and them want to end that problem.”

“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.”

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

“(I) made clear we will not allow Iran to benefit from our successful campaign against ISIS.”

“Our national security councils will meet to follow up all on (everything we discussed) today. We have made the first steps towards a brighter future, grounded on cooperation and peace.”

“Mr President (Putin) I want to thank you for advancing open dialogue between Russia and the United States … for the greater good of all.

“This was a very constructive day, the few hours we spent together today. It is in the interest of both our countries to continue this conversation and we will meet again in the future.”

PUTIN’S OPENING REMARKS

“Negotiations with Trump took place in an open and constructive atmosphere, I find them rather successful and useful.”

“It is obvious to everyone that international relations have lived through a difficult period … The Cold War has ended a long time ago, the situation in the world has drastically changed. Russia and the United States are now facing totally different challenges.”

Putin said 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”.

“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.”

“The United States could convince the Ukrainian leadership to fulfill the Minsk (peace) accords.”

“(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.”

“We have offered to consider building the philosophy of bilateral relations for the long term.”

“We have good talks, we started to understand each other better.”

“The talks have reflected our mutual desire to improve the situation … to restore trust,” Putin said, referring to global security, economic issues and ecological risks.

“We find it important to have dialogue on strategic stability.”

“We have everything necessary for efficient cooperation on Syria.”

“We as the largest gas state — and the United States is also such a country — could have worked on regulating the global market. We are not interested in prices dropping to low levels as producers could get hurt. We are also not interested in excessively high prices.”

“Concerning Nord Stream 2 I have reassured Trump that Russia is ready to preserve (gas) transit via Ukraine. We are ready to extend the contract that expires in 2019 if the dispute in Stockholm (court) is solved.”

“No one should trust anyone. He (Trump) is defending U.S. interests, I am defending interests of the Russian Federation. We have matching interests, we are looking for common points.”

“Concerning 12 alleged security officers, I know nothing about it, I need to figure out. Trump has put this question to me, we have discussed this.”

U.S. President Donald Trump waves to the media after arriving in Vantaa, Finland, July 15, 2018. Lehtikuva/Heikki Saukkomaa via REUTERS
U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin hold a joint news conference after their meeting in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger