Da Nang (Vietnam), Nov 11 (IANS) US President Donald Trump on Saturday said his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin again denied interfering in the 2016 US elections and felt “insulted” by the allegations.
The two leaders met briefly at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit here and Trump said he took Putin at his word that Russia did not seek to interfere in the US presidential election last year, despite a finding from US intelligence agencies that it did.
And Trump stressed that bigger issues persist between Washington and Moscow that require the two leaders to move on, CNN reported.
“He said he didn’t meddle. He said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One as he flew from Da Nang to Hanoi in Vietnam.
Trump spoke to Putin three times on the sidelines of the summit here, where the Russia meddling issue arose. “Every time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that’,” Trump said. “And I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it.”
“I think he is very insulted by it, which is not a good thing for our country,” Trump added.
Putin later dismissed the allegations as “political infighting”. The US Justice Department is investigating the claims as well as alleged collusion involving Trump’s team.
“Everything about the so-called Russian dossier in the US is a manifestation of continuing domestic political struggle,” Putin said.
Trump’s several key former aides had already been named in connection with the inquiry. George Papadopoulos, a campaign adviser, pleaded guilty to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) about the timing of meetings with alleged go-betweens for Russia.
Former campaign manager Paul Manafort and an associate are also currently under house arrest on charges of money laundering which are unrelated to the election, but linked to the investigation.
Trump and Putin did not have a formal meeting while they were in Vietnam, but they spoke informally and agreed upon the need to defeat the Islamic State (IS) in Syria. They also called on the UN member states to build up humanitarian assistance to the war-ravaged country, TASS news agency reported.
Both the leaders “reaffirmed their commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria and called on the parties to the conflict there to participate in the Geneva political process… and reiterated the need to destroy the IS”, according to a joint statement approved by Putin and Trump on the sidelines of the APEC.
They said “there is no military solution to the conflict in Syria… and agreed to maintain the existing military communication channels to ensure the security of US and Russian armed forces, as well as to prevent dangerous incidents involving the forces of allies fighting the Daesh (IS) terror group,” the statement said.
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