HELSINKI, FINLAND (JULY 16, 2018) (REUTERS) – U.S. President Donald Trump sat down with Vladimir Putin for a long-awaited summit on Monday saying he wanted good relations with Russia, after blaming Washington’s own past “foolishness and stupidity” for the countries’ hostile ties.
Trump opened the meeting with warm words for Putin, seated next to the Russian leader in an ornate presidential palace in neutral Finland, and said it was a longstanding goal of his to improve the relationship between the two countries.
But to Trump’s critics, the friendly words had already been overshadowed by an extraordinary denunciation of his own country’s prior policies, which Trump tweeted out hours before the summit.
“Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!” he tweeted before the summit began.
The Russian foreign ministry “liked” his tweet, and tweeted back: “We agree”.
Putin and Trump met alone apart from interpreters before a working lunch with aides. Trump said they would talk about a range of subjects, listing trade, the military, nuclear weapons and China.