‘Putin is not an enemy’

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he sees his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin as a “competitor”, not an “enemy”, days before they meet for a high-stakes summit.

“Someone said ‘is he an enemy?’ No, he’s not my enemy. Is he your friend? No, I don’t know him well enough, but the couple of times I’ve gotten to meet him we got on very well.”

“But ultimately he’s a competitor. He’s representing Russia, I’m representing the United States,” Mr. Trump added. “Hopefully some day he’ll be a friend, I just don’t know.”

Mr. Trump said he would be discussing the civil war in Syria, the conflict in Ukraine, as well as allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

“I will be asking about meddling, your favourite question,” he told reporters. “All I can do is say ‘did you?’ and ‘don’t do it again’. He may deny,” Mr. Trump added. The U.S. President was also asked if he would be prepared to recognise Crimea as part of Russia after it was annexed from Ukraine by Moscow in 2014.

“What will happen to Crimea from this point on? That I can’t tell you, but I’m not happy about Crimea.” He blamed Barack Obama “who allowed it to happen.”

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