The Donald Trump seen on television is different from the one in real life, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the G20 summit, adding that after his meeting with the US leader in Hamburg, he felt like relations between the two countries could at least partially be restored.
“As for personal relations, I think that they are established,” Putin said of his Friday meeting with Trump.
“I think that if we continue building our relations like during our conversation yesterday, there are grounds to believe that we’ll be able to – at least partially – restore the level of cooperation that we need,” Putin said.
Putin said that the issue of alleged Russian meddling in the US election was addressed by Trump during their conversation.
Putin reiterated that there is no reason to believe that Russia meddled in the US electoral process in 2016.
“He [Trump] asked many questions on that subject. I answered those questions as best I could. I think he took it into consideration and agreed with me, but you should really ask him how he feels about it,” the Russian president said.
Regarding cybersecurity, the Russian leader said that he and Trump “agreed that there should never be a situation of uncertainty, especially in the future, in this sphere.”
“The US president and I agreed that we’ll create a working group and work together on how to jointly monitor security in cyberspace, how to ensure unconditional compliance with international legal norms, and how to prevent interference in internal affairs of foreign countries,” Putin said.
“If we manage to organize this work – and I have no reasons to doubt that – then there will be no more speculation on this topic [of Russia meddling],” he added.
The situation in Syria was also addressed during the press conference, with Putin saying the new US administration had a “more pragmatic” stance on the issue.
“I think the [US] position became more pragmatic. It doesn’t seem to have changed drastically [compared to the Obama administration], but there’s an understanding that we can achieve a lot by joining forces,” he said.
This approach by Washington made possible the agreement on the southern de-escalation zone in Syria, which was “one of the breakthroughs” during Friday’s talks with Trump, the Russian president added.
Putin stressed the importance of the de-escalation zones for maintaining the territorial integrity of the Syrian state after the conflict.
The de-escalations zones “should become a prototype of such territories, which would be able to cooperate with each other and with the official [government in] Damascus,” he explained.
The Russian president addressed comments by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and other Washington officials, who insisted that the Syrian conflict would be not be solved while President Bashar Assad remains in power.
“Mr Tillerson is a very respected person and the bearer of a Russian order. He has been decorated with the Order of Friendship. We love and respect him. But he’s not a Syrian citizen, after all, and the future of Syria and the political future of President Assad should only be determined by the Syrian people,” he said.