Trump, Putin Upbeat About Cooperation

Trump, Putin Upbeat About CooperationTrump, Putin Upbeat About Cooperation

The US president-elect, Donald Trump, upped the stakes on Friday in a back-and-forth exchange with President Vladimir Putin over nuclear weapons that tested the Republican’s promises to improve relations with Russia.

Offering a glimpse of how he might conduct diplomacy after taking office on January 20, Trump reportedly welcomed a nuclear arms race with Russia and China, and boasted that the United States would win it.

MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski said Trump told her in an off-air phone call: “Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all,” Reuters reported.

Trump tweeted unexpectedly on Thursday that, “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes,” but gave no further details.

That comment appeared to be a response to Putin who said earlier on Thursday that Russia needed to “strengthen the military potential of strategic nuclear forces”.

  Putin Cautious

Putin said on Friday he had no interest in competing with the US nuclear weapon program.

“If anyone is unleashing an arms race, it’s not us ... We will never spend resources on an arms race that we can’t afford,” he said at a news conference.

He said he did not regard the United States as a potential aggressor and said he saw nothing new or remarkable about Trump’s own statement about wanting to expand US nuclear capabilities.

Trump Spokesman Sean Spicer said the president-elect’s nuclear comments were meant to send a general message of strength to countries like Russia and China rather than indicate the US planned to build up its nuclear capabilities.

  Putin’s “Very Nice Letter”

Trump on Friday released what he said was “a very nice letter” from Putin dated December 15 in which the Russian leader sought bilateral cooperation and a “new level” of relations.

In an accompanying statement, Trump said he hoped both countries could “live up to these thoughts” rather than “have to travel an alternative path”.

The Obama administration has accused Russia of trying to interfere with the US election by hacking Democratic Party accounts. Information from those hacks was leaked online, causing political problems for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

Putin dismissed suggestions Moscow had helped Trump to victory.

“The current administration and the leadership of the Democratic Party are trying to blame all their failures on external factors,” he said at his Friday news conference.

“(We are talking about) a party which has clearly forgotten the original meaning of its own name. They (the Democrats) are losing on all fronts and looking elsewhere for things to blame. In my view this, how shall I say it, degrades their own dignity. You have to know how to lose with dignity.”

Trump expressed his agreement with Putin’s view of the Democrats.

“So true!” Trump tweeted Friday evening.

Putin, who spoke positively of Trump before his election win, said that only Moscow had believed in his victory.

“Trump understood the mood of the people and kept going until the end, when nobody believed in him,” Putin said, adding with a smile. “Except for you and me.”

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