WATCH | Trump and Putin open historic summit

16 July 2018 - 13:55
By afp

The US and Russian leaders opened a historic summit in Helsinki on Monday, with Donald Trump promising an "extraordinary relationship" and Vladimir Putin saying it was high time to thrash out disputes around the world.

"The two leaders will discuss relations between the United States and Russia and a range of national security issues," the White House said in a statement similar to one released by the Kremlin.

Trump will meet Putin after attending the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) leaders summit and making a visit to Britain.

Looking sombre, they exchanged opening remarks in front of the press at the start of their summit in Helsinki. While Trump acclaimed the meeting's potential, Putin said: "The time has come to talk in a substantive way about our relations and problem areas of the world."

The two leaders have met twice before on the sidelines of international gatherings and spoken at least eight times by phone. They have also made positive comments about each other from time to time with Putin praising Trump's handling of the economy.

Their summit could irritate US allies however who want to isolate Putin, such as Britain, or countries like Ukraine who are nervous about what they see as Trump's overly friendly attitude towards the Russian leader.