Trump congratulates Putin on winning presidential election

EPA-EFE  JIM LO SCALZO

Washington D.C. [U.S.A.], March 21 (ANI): United States President Donald Trump on Tuesday congratulated Russian President Vladimir Putin, following his landslide victory in the presidential election, and added that the two leaders "will probably get together in the not-too-distant future" to discuss the global arms race.

"I had a call with President Putin and congratulated him on the victory, his electoral victory", Trump said during his meeting with Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.

Sanders adds that the call was meant to discuss areas of cooperation between the USA and Russian Federation.

The White House said in a statement that Trump and Putin in their phone call earlier on Tuesday discussed the bilateral relations, resolving to continue dialogue about mutual national security priorities and challenges. "Special attention was focused on the issue of a possible top-level meeting", the Kremlin said. "The two leaders confirmed the need for the United States and Russian Federation to continue our shared efforts on strategic stability".

"As you know, [Putin] made a statement that being in an arms race is not a great thing, and it was right after the election, one of the first statements he made", Trump said.

Sanders said Trump didn't criticize the conduct of Russia's election in the call.

Trump, who vowed to improve relations with Russia on taking office 14 months ago, has been under pressure from Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, to take a tougher stance on Putin, his inner circle and scores of Russian oligarchs.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended Trump's comments on Tuesday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said there was a "lack of credibility in tallying the result".

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Moscow and Washington are also at odds over crises in Ukraine and Syria, which Trump said would be discussed in a meeting along with the denuclearization of North Korea.

The White House said Monday that it was "not surprised by the outcome" of Sunday's presidential election in Russian Federation and that no congratulatory call was planned.

The call came after White House said on March 19 that it is "not surprised by the outcome".

Sanders also confirmed that Trump also didn't raise the issues of election meddling or Russia's allegedly tainted voting process.

Putin has struck a softer tone toward the West since Sunday, saying he has no desire for an arms race and would do everything he could to resolve differences with other countries. London has blamed Moscow for the attack, a charge Russian Federation denies.

The flap comes as Donald Trump continues to fight off allegations that his campaign colluded with Russian Federation during the 2016 election. Three of Trump's associates - former national security adviser Michael Flynn, deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates and campaign aide George Papadopoulos - have pleaded guilty to lying to investigators and agreed to cooperate.

Trump "emphasized the importance of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula", the White House added in a separate statement.

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