Putin summit: US leader cautious ahead of Helsinki talks

Ahead of Trump-Putin meeting, lack of preparation leads to low expectations: Sources

A placard is displayed during "Helsinki Calling" protest ahead of meeting between the U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland July 15, 2018.

If there is one thing the president and his aides should be working on between rounds of golf at his club in Scotland, it is exactly how the president will look and what he will say on the first handshake with Putin in Helsinki. I will say this.

The second important meeting between the USA and Russian leaders in Helsinki took place in 1990, when president George Bush met his Russian counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev to discuss Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, which would later lead to a USA intervention and the first Gulf War.

"I have great confidence in my intelligence people".

Hours before the Helsinki summit, Trump was asked if he would press Putin over Russia's alleged manipulation of the 2016 election that brought the mercurial property tycoon to power.

Dan Coats, Trump's director of national intelligence, promptly made clear he did not share the president's view.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said on State of the Union that it would be pointless for Trump to raise the issue as it's inevitable that Russian Federation will interfere in USA elections. President Trump also expressed concern with Germany's recent pipeline with Russian Federation, calling them "captives". It said it did not expect much from the meeting but hoped it would be a "first step" to resolving a crisis in ties.

Panelists on popular Sunday night talk show "Vecher", or "Evening", said Putin goes into Monday's summit in Helsinki as the clearly stronger figure, notably coming off his hosting of the World Cup. "I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade", Trump said. "We'll have to see what happens", he added.

Jon Huntsman, the USA ambassador to Russian Federation, tried rebranding the event in an interview on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday from Norway's capital.

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Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted back: "We agree".

Trump then said that he could not take a fully combative stance to the European Union because "both" of his parents were born there.

"We'll be talking about Syria", he said. "I think we have great opportunities together as two countries because frankly, we have not been getting along well for the last number of years". "I stand with our men and women in the USA intelligence community, and am highly disturbed by President Trump's statements supporting Putin's baseless, false claims of innocence".

He said Putin would deny any attempt to disrupt USA elections.

"I think it'd be a moot point. We have lots to discuss. Let's get to it".

The summit caps a trip overseas during which Trump sternly criticized North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies for failing to spend enough on their militaries and embarrassed British Prime Minister Theresa May by saying she refused to take his advice about how to negotiate Britain's exit from the EU. In response, he has blamed President Obama for allowing Putin to annex Crimea from Ukraine during his administration in 2014.

For Putin, the fact that the summit is even happening despite Russia's semi-pariah status among some Americans and US allies is a geopolitical win because, in Russian eyes, it shows that Washington recognizes Moscow as a great power whose interests must be taken into account.

"To maintain our partnership with the U.S. we must readjust it", Heiko Maas told the Funke newspaper group.

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