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 relations.
Following are highlights of comments made by Trump and Putin at a news conference after their meeting in Finland’s capital Helsinki.
“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 ... A productive dialogue is 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 ... To refuse to engage would not accomplish anything.”
“As president I cannot make decisions on foreign policy to appease the media or the 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. President Putin feels strongly about the issue and has an interesting idea.”
“We discussed ... nuclear proliferation. After today I am sure that we and them want to end that problem.”
“We also discussed the scourge of radical Islamic terrorism that both Russia and the United States have suffered...
“We have agreed to maintain open communication between our security agencies to protect our citizen from this global menace.”
“We also discussed at length the crisis in Syria. Cooperation 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 (Islamic State).”
“We also agreed that representatives from our national security councils will meet to follow up on all the issues we discussed today. We have made the first steps toward a brighter future..., grounded in America’s desire for friendship, cooperation and peace.”
“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 I’m sure we will be meeting again in the future.”
“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.”
ASKED ABOUT U.S. INVESTIGATION INTO ALLEGED RUSSIAN MEDDLING IN THE 2016 ELECTION
“The probe is a disaster for our country. I think it has kept us apart. There was no collusion at all..., so far that I know virtually nothing related to the campaign. It was a clean campaign. I beat Hillary Clinton easily and frankly we beat her…We won that race and it’s a shame that there can be even a little bit of a cloud over it.
“This had a negative impact upon the relationship between the two biggest nuclear powers of the world.
“There was no collusion, I did not know the president (Putin), there was nobody to collude with ... We ran a brilliant campaign and that is why I am president.”
“I wonder why the FBI did not take the server. Where is the server? I want to know where is it, and what is the server saying? With that, all I can do is ask the question.
“Putin just said it’s not Russia. I do not see any reason why it should be ... It (the election dispute) will go on for a while but it cannot be (resolved) unless we know what happened to the server.
“What happened to Hillary Clinton’s emails — 33,000 just gone, gone.”
“I have great confidence in my intelligence people but President Putin was extremely strong and confident in his denial today.”
“He offered to have (our) people working on the case come and work with their (Russian) people on the case.”
“We can suggest that the Mueller commission ... files us an official request to carry out interrogation of the people that they deem guilty. Representatives of our prosecutor’s office and investigative authorities can carry out these interrogations and file the materials to the United States.”
“We can take another step: We can let U.S. official representatives, including Mueller, take part in these interrogations. We can raise the question of making these actions mutual. We can expect from the United States to question those representatives of special services that we suspect have carried out unlawful actions against Russia.”
“There is a well-known case of Hermitage Capital. According to our investigation, (British businessman Bill) Browder’s partners have illegally made more than $1.5 billion in Russia. They have paid no taxes in Russia and the United States but they transferred this money to the United States, $400 million have been channeled into (Hillary) Clinton’s pre-election campaign.”
ASKED IF RUSSIA HAS COMPROMISING MATERIAL ON TRUMP PRE-DATING HIS PRESIDENCY
Putin denied what he called a “rumor” that Russia possessed compromising material on Trump dating back to when he was a businessman and visited Moscow.
“I’ve heard about us allegedly collecting compromising material on him when he came to Moscow. When he came to Moscow I didn’t even know he was there.
“It’s hard to imagine more nonsense. Throw this rubbish out of your head.
“I treat President Trump with utmost respect but back then nobody informed me that he was in Moscow.
“I was an intelligence officer myself and know how these dossiers are put together.”
“If they (the Russian government) had anything (compromising material) on me it would have been out long ago ... It (the allegations) was a disgrace to the FBI, our country, and it was a total witch-hunt.”
Putin said Trump’s position on Crimea is “well known now and he stands firmly by it. He continues to maintain it was illegal” for Russia to annex Crimea. He said his own position is that it was legal based on a referendum.
“We both spoke with Bibi Netanyahu (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) and we would like to do certain things with Syria having to do with the safety of Israel. Russia and the U.S. will work jointly (in this regard).
“Creating safety for Israel is something both President Putin and I would like to see very much ... We (also) want to help the Syrians on a humanitarian basis.
“Our (U.S. and Russian) militaries have gotten along better than our political leaders for a number of years. (And we get along in Syria as well).”
“Yesterday I discussed this with French President Mr Macron and we reached an agreement that together with European countries including France we will step up this effort. On our side, we’ll provide military cargo aircraft to deliver humanitarian aid and today I brought up this issue with President Trump. There’s a huge amount of refugees in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. If we help then immigration pressure on European countries will drop dramatically.”
“Generally, I agree with President (Trump), our military work rather successfully with each other (in Syria). I hope they will manage to make arrangements as they have managed to do this so far.”
“Actually I called him a competitor and a good competitor he is, and I think the word competitor is a compliment.”
TRUMP, ASKED ABOUT HIS EARLIER COMMENT ON U.S. FOOLISHNESS AND STUPIDITY TOWARD RUSSIA
“I hold both countries responsible. I think the U.S. has been foolish. We’ve all been foolish. I beat Hillary Clinton easily and frankly we beat her ... We won that race and it’s a shame that there can be even a little bit of a cloud over it.”
PUTIN, ASKED WHETHER HE WANTED TRUMP TO WIN THE 2016 ELECTION
“Yes, I did.”
Compiled by Reuters staff