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Trump Tells Putin (With a Grin) Not to Meddle in Elections

The written summary of the leaders’ meeting issued by the White House indicated, without elaborating, that they had talked about that as well as Iran, Syria, Venezuela and Ukraine. The summary made no mention of election interference, nor did it say anything about two Americans who have been arrested by the Russian authorities on disputed charges.

Likewise, it said nothing about an international investigation this month that pointed to Russia in the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine, which killed all 298 people on board. International prosecutors have indicted three men with ties to Russian military and intelligence agencies in the destruction of the passenger jet and implicated, without charging, a senior aide to Mr. Putin.

Nor did the summary indicate that the leaders talked about Russia’s seizure of three Ukrainian ships and several sailors last November, events that prompted Mr. Trump to cancel a scheduled meeting with Mr. Putin, and which remains unresolved. When a reporter asked about the ships and sailors on Friday, the president said, “We haven’t discussed them.”

While Mr. Putin did not address the election issue with reporters on Friday, he scoffed at the idea of Russian involvement in an interview before flying to Osaka. He advanced the same line of argument that Mr. Trump does: that he won in 2016 because he was the candidate more in touch with Americans.

“Russia has been accused, and, strange as it may seem, it is still being accused, despite the Mueller report, of mythical interference in the U.S. election,” Mr. Putin told The Financial Times. “What happened in reality? Mr. Trump looked into his opponents’ attitude to him and saw changes in American society, and he took advantage of this.”

He complimented Mr. Trump’s political skill. “I do not accept many of his methods when it comes to addressing problems,” Mr. Putin said. “But do you know what I think? I think that he is a talented person. He knows very well what his voters expect from him.”

But Mr. Putin made clear he was frustrated that Mr. Trump had not agreed to extend the New Start treaty. “They keep silent, while the treaty expires in 2021,” he said. “If we do not begin talks now, it would be over because there would be no time even for formalities.”

Source: NYT > World News

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