Trump, Putin discuss Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iran deal
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Trump, Putin discuss Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iran deal

'Positive' phone call mostly focused on fight against terrorism, Kremlin says; White House hails 'significant start' to improving US-Russia ties

President Donald Trump, with Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Vice President Mike Pence, White House press secretary Sean Spicer and National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, speaks on the phone with with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017, in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Donald Trump, with Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Vice President Mike Pence, White House press secretary Sean Spicer and National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, speaks on the phone with with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017, in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the Iran nuclear deal and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a phone conversation, the Kremlin said on Saturday.

Describing the exchange as “positive,” the Kremlin said the two touched on many subjects from the nuclear deal to Ukraine and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the tensions on the Korean peninsula and trade relations.

The “priority” in their talks was said to have been the fight against international terrorism.

“The two sides expressed a willingness to work actively together to stabilize and develop Russian-American cooperation on a constructive basis, as equals, and to mutual benefit,” Putin said in a statement after the two men’s first phone conversation since Trump took office.

“The presidents said they were in favor of putting in place real coordination of Russian and American actions to destroy IS and the other terrorist groupings in Syria,” the statement said.

Trump and Putin also expressed the desire to organize a meeting, the Kremlin said.

It was the first phone conversation between the two men since November, just after Trump’s surprise election victory.

Back then they agreed on the need to “normalize” relations between Moscow and Washington after the tensions during the previous US administration of president Barack Obama over the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine.

Trump’s White House hailed Saturday his call with Putin as a “significant start” to better ties between Washington and Moscow.

During the hour-long conversation, which the White House billed as a “congratulatory call” from Putin, the pair discussed cooperation against the Islamic State group.

“The positive call was a significant start to improving the relationship between the United States and Russia that is in need of repair,” a White House statement read.

“Both President Trump and President Putin are hopeful that after today’s call the two sides can move quickly to tackle terrorism and other important issues of mutual concern.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a government meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017. (Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a government meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017. (Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

A recently declassified US intelligence report says Putin and Russia meddled in the US election to help Trump win the presidency.

The Russian efforts sought “to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency,” said the report from the Director of National Intelligence.

Trump has challenged the claims. Though he has grudgingly acknowledged that Russia was involved in hacking the Democratic Party ahead of the November elections, the president has expressed confidence that Russian efforts did not affect the outcome of the election.

US spy chiefs have informed Trump that Russian operatives claim to possess deeply compromising personal and financial information about him, according to American media reports.

Media outlet Buzzfeed has published, without corroborating its contents, a 35-page dossier of memos on which the assessment is ostensibly based, which had been circulating in Washington for months.

The memos describe sex videos involving prostitutes filmed during a 2013 visit by Trump to a luxury Moscow hotel, supposedly as a potential means for Russia to blackmail him.

They also suggest Russian officials proposed lucrative deals in order to win influence over the Republican real estate magnate.

The dossier was originally compiled by a former British MI6 intelligence operative hired by other US presidential contenders to do political “opposition research” on Trump in the middle of last year, according to CNN.

The classified two-page synopsis also included allegations that there was a regular flow of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and Russian government intermediaries.

Trump has called the dossier “phony” and said it is part of a “witch hunt” against him.

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