He spoke as the highly-anticipated first meeting between the two leaders began, but did not go into detail about which issues he would address.
“President Putin and I have been discussing various things and I think it’s going very well. We’ve had some very, very good talks,” Trump said. “We’re going to have a talk now, and obviously that will continue. But we look forward to a lot of very positive things happening for Russia, for the United States, and for everybody concerned.”
Trump added that it was an “honor” to be with Putin. Putin said he was “delighted” to meet Trump “personally” before the pair shook hands and reporters gathered left. Trump did not answer shouted questions about whether he would confront Putin about Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election.
The U.S. president came into the meeting — which featured Trump, Putin, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and translators — without a specific agenda set. It is not clear if Trump will bring up election meddling or if the Russian leader will ask about the potential of easing sanctions imposed by the outgoing Obama administration.
On Thursday, top Senate Democrats urged Trump to press Putin about the 2016 election, saying, “not raising this matter with President Putin would be a severe dereliction of the duty of the office to which you were elected.”
Trump came into office seeking a reset of relations with Russia and hoping to cooperate in some policy areas, like fighting the terror group ISIS. However, Putin’s support for ruthless Syrian President Bashar Assad, among other issues, has emerged as a hurdle to their working together.
On Thursday, Trump criticized Moscow’s actions in the strongest terms he has used as president and hinted at possible topics the pair could address: Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region and Moscow’s actions in Syria, among them.
“We urge Russia to cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere, and its support for hostile regimes including Syria and Iran, and to instead join the community of responsible nations in our fight against common enemies and in defense of civilization itself,” Trump said in Warsaw.
But just hours before the speech, Trump made a statement that appeared to please the Kremlin. He acknowledged that Russia may have interfered in the 2016 U.S. election but said that other countries may have meddled, too.
“Nobody really knows. Nobody really knows for sure,” Trump said.
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Trump: Look forward to 'positive things happening' from Putin meeting