President Donald Trump congratulated Russian President Vladimir Putin on winning the Russian presidential election and said the two leaders will meet “in the not too distant future.”
“I had a call with President Putin and congratulated him on the victory, his electoral victory…we will probably get together in the not too distant future,” Trump said at the White House on Tuesday, March 20.
Trump last met with Putin in person in Vietnam in November last year. At the future meeting, the two will discuss the “arms race which is getting out of control.”
“We will never allow anybody to have anything close to what we have,” Trump said. “And also to discuss Ukraine, Syria and North Korea, so I think we’ll probably be seeing President Putin in the not too distant future.”
The United States sanctioned Russia last week for cyber attacks against critical American infrastructure and attempts to interfere in the 2016 election. Trump also sided with several European leaders last week to condemn Russia over the nerve agent attack in the United Kingdom.
The people and entities sanctioned for interference are the same as those indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investing allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Mueller’s indictment did not include any allegation that any U.S. person knowingly colluded with Russia, according to Mueller’s boss, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
In their phone call, the two leaders also discussed the importance of denuclearizing North Korea.
“The two leaders discussed the state of bilateral relations and resolved to continue dialogue about mutual national security priorities and challenges,” said a statement from the White House.
Putin won a landslide victory in the March 18 presidential election, extending his rule over Russia for another six years.
“The leaders spoke in favor of developing practical cooperation in different spheres, including on questions of how to ensure strategic stability and fight international terrorism,” the Kremlin said in a statement.
Putin and Trump agreed on the need to work together to avoid a possible arms race, the Kremlin said, adding: “Special attention was devoted to working through the question of a possible high-level meeting.”
The Kremlin said Tuesday’s conversation between the two leaders had been broadly constructive and focused on overcoming problems in U.S.-Russia relations, which are at a post-Cold War low.
Reuters contributed to this report.