President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by phone Saturday, setting the agenda for future bilateral relations and agreeing to find time and place for an in-person meeting, the Kremlin said in a statement Saturday.
President Trump also spoke by telephone with German President Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, among other world leaders, in conversations where they stressed the importance of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Messrs. Trump and Putin discussed a range of issues, including the conflict in Ukraine, the situation in the Middle East and tensions on the Korean peninsula, the Kremlin said.
Russia and the U.S. have long been at odds over the war in Syria. The Kremlin has backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while former U.S. President Barack Obama backed the ouster of the Syrian leader. Saturday’s Kremlin statement indicated that Mr. Trump might more closely align with Russia in its campaign against Islamic State, or ISIS, and other militant groups in Syria.
The Kremlin’s statement said the two leaders agreed to “establish real coordination of Russian and American actions to defeat ISIS and other terrorist groups in Syria.” Mr. Putin “now view[s] the U.S. as the most important partner in fighting international terrorism,” the statement added.
President Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel held extensive talks about security issues Saturday, with both leaders working to establish a relationship following loaded barbs Mr. Trump leveled at Ms. Merkel during his presidential campaign.
The leaders said in a joint statement that they agreed that NATO was an alliance with “fundamental importance to the broader transatlantic relationship.” Mr. Trump has in the past criticized NATO and suggested the U.S. might pull back its support from the alliance if more countries did not contribute more to defense spending.
“NATO must be capable of confronting 21st century threats and…our common defense requires appropriate investment in military capabilities to ensure all Allies are contributing their fair share to our collective security,” their joint statement said, appearing to address the suggestion of a U.S. pullback.
Fair Share Contributions
Coming from Trump, the statement “Our common defense requires appropriate investment in military capabilities to ensure all Allies are contributing their fair share to our collective security” reads more like a demand that allies pony up than anything else.
I would expect Russian sanctions to be removed within a few months if not much sooner.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock