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Don’t meddle in the election, Trump warns Putin jokingly

He said trade and disarmament were among the issues they would discuss.

President Donald Trump meets Russian President Vladimir Putin (Susan Walsh/AP)
President Donald Trump meets Russian President Vladimir Putin (Susan Walsh/AP)

President Donald Trump has jokingly told Russian leader Vladimir Putin “don’t meddle with the election” in their first meeting since the special counsel concluded Moscow interfered with the 2016 campaign.

The tone of the president’s comments, which came after a reporter asked if he would warn Mr Putin, were immediately open to interpretation.

But they would seem to do little to silence questions about President Trump’s relationship with Russia in the aftermath of special counsel Robert Mueller’s conclusion that he could not establish a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

It was the first time the leaders had met since they sat together publicly in Helsinki nearly a year ago, when President Trump pointedly did not admonish Mr Putin over election interference and did not side with US intelligence services over his Russian counterpart.

The leaders traded brief remarks on Friday about issues they planned to discuss when a reporter shouted to President Trump about warning Mr Putin “not to meddle” in the 2020 election.

The president answered “of course” before he turned to Mr Putin and said: “Don’t meddle in the election.”

He playfully repeated request while pointing at Mr Putin, who laughed.

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The pair shake hands (Susan Walsh/AP)

President Trump also said he enjoyed a “very, very good relationship” with Mr Putin, and said “many positive things are going to come out of the relationship”.

He said trade and disarmament were among the issues they would discuss.

The Kremlin later said Mr Putin had invited Mr Trump to visit Russia next year.

Mr Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters the Russian leader wants the US president to attend festivities marking the 75th anniversary of the Second World War victory.

Mr Peskov said Mr Trump reacted “positively” to the invitation at the two leaders’ meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit, and a formal invitation would be sent shortly.

PA

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