Russian PM says U.S.-Russia ties at low ebb but Trump 'friendly'

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday that U.S.-Russia ties were the worst he could recall, but that U.S. President Donald Trump struck him as a friendly person keen to establish positive working contacts with Russia.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visit the Resurrection New Jerusalem Monastery at Istra, outside Moscow, Russia November 15, 2017. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS

Trump took office in January, saying he wanted warmer ties with Russia which had fallen to a post-Cold War low. But since then, ties have frayed further after U.S. intelligence officials said Russia had meddled in the presidential election, something Moscow denies.

Medvedev, who met Trump in Manila this month, suggested he and President Vladimir Putin both found Trump constructive and friendly in person, but accused other U.S. politicians of playing what he called “the Russian card” to achieve their own aims and influence Trump’s attitude towards Russia.

“The impression he (Trump) makes is that of a friendly political figure ready to establish full-scale contacts and who reacts reasonably towards everything,” Medvedev said in an interview with Russia’s main TV channels.

Medvedev said he had chatted to Trump briefly over dinner at a regional summit in Manila.

“He (Trump) recalled our cooperation during World War Two, saying that it was important both for Russia and America,” said Medvedev.

“It was a pretty normal exchange I am sure and President (Vladimir) Putin has spoken about just that - that everything is fine when it comes to our relations when we meet in person.”

But Medvedev said that was of secondary importance because overall U.S.-Russia relations were “appalling.”

“They are very bad, I would say appalling. They are the worst I can remember.”

Medvedev said the political climate towards Russia in the United States reminded him of the 1950s when U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy helped launch a campaign against anyone he regarded as pro-communist in the United States.

“But still, even then there was no talk of settling accounts with your own president,” said Medvedev.

Reporting by Polina Nikolskaya; Writing by Maria Tsvetkova and Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Andrew Osborn