President Donald Trump met with his Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin, in Helsinki, Finland on Monday for an hour-and-a-half one-on-one meeting between the two leaders.
Putin arrived late for the meeting, which opened with a brief photo opportunity, but without questions from journalists. The two are expected to host a joint press briefing following the closed-door meeting.
During his opening comments to President Putin, Trump said the world would benefit from a more positive relationship between the US and Russia.
“I think we have great opportunities together as two countries that frankly we have not been getting along very well for the last number of years,” Trump said.
“I’ve been here not too long but it is getting close to two years, but I think we will end up having an extraordinary relationship. I’ve been saying, and I’m sure you’ve heard, over the years ... that getting along with Russia is a good thing not a bad thing.”
“I really think the world wants to see us get along. We are the two great nuclear powers. We have 90% of the nuclear [weapons] – and that’s not a good thing it’s a bad thing. I think we can hopefully do something about that because it is not a positive force it is a negative force so we’ll be talking about that among other things.”
Following the opening statements, the two leaders met privately behind closed doors, with only their translators.
Before the summit, Trump played down the meeting, saying Sunday that had “low expectations” for his meeting with Putin, but added “nothing bad” would come out of the talks.
"I go in with low expectations," the president said. "I'm not going with high expectations."
Just hours ahead of the meeting, President Trump lamented that the US-Russia relationship had reached an all-time low.
“Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt,” Trump wrote, referencing the special probe investigating allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
On Friday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officials accused of attempting to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.