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Putin insists 'no Russian interference' in US election

By AP Reporters

Russian president Vladimir Putin has denied his country interfered in the 2016 US elections.

Mr Putin said the "so-called Russian interference" in the election was brought up by US leader Donald Trump during their summit in Helsinki.

Speaking at a joint news conference alongside his US counterpart, Mr Putin said: "I had to repeat that the Russian state never interfered, and does not plan to interfere, in internal American electoral process."

Mr Trump said that the Russian collusion investigation has been a "disaster" for the United States and has kept America and Russia "separated".

He reiterated that there had been "no collusion" between his campaign and the Russian government.

The US president said he ran a "clean campaign" and beat his Democratic presidential rival, Hillary Clinton, "easily".

Mr Trump said it is a "shame" there is a cloud over his administration, but said he ran a "brilliant campaign and that's why I'm president".

Mr Putin said of the collusion claims, that there is "no evidence when it comes to the actual facts".

Mr Trump said he has "great confidence" in his intelligence agencies, who have concluded Russia interfered in the election.

But the US president said Mr Putin was "incredibly strong and powerful today" in his contention that Russia had nothing to do with election interference.

The Russian president also rejected allegations that Moscow has collected compromising material on Mr Trump - or his family.

In general, Mr Putin said the talks with Mr Trump took place in an "open and businesslike atmosphere" and he characterised them as "successful and useful".

Mr Trump told the press conference that the United States and Russia must find ways to "co-operate in pursuit of shared interests".

He said a productive dialogue between America and Russia is good for both countries and "is good for the world".

Mr Trump added they had discussed disagreements between their countries "at length" and accepted that relations between them have never been worse.

However, he added that he thinks "that changed as of about four hours ago".

He said he is sure that he and Mr Putin will meet again often in the future.

Mr Putin said he and Mr Trump have agreed to continue detailed discussions on arms control issues.

The Russian leader said his country and the US should discuss a possible extension of the 2010 New START nuclear arms reduction treaty and the implementation of the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty.

Mr Putin added that other issues that Russia would like to discuss in the arms control sphere are the US missile defence plans and the weaponisation of space.

Mr Trump, when asked about a Russian gas pipeline to Germany, noted that the US and Russia compete in the energy market.

He said that when he referred to Mr Putin as a competitor, he meant it as a compliment.

The US president criticised the pipeline during an earlier stop on his week-long visit to Europe.

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