President Donald Trump spoke by phone with President Vladimir Putin of Russia on Thursday, talking about how they can work together to resolve the situation involving North Korea’s nuclear program, the White House said.
Trump also used the call to thank Putin for “acknowledging America’s strong economic performance in his annual press conference,” according to a White House read out of the call.
The leaders talked for about 10 minutes, and national security adviser H.R. McMaster didn’t participate in the call, a White House official said.
The call offered fresh evidence that Trump will continue to work with Putin, despite potential political liabilities. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and potential ties to Trump’s campaign has cast a negative light on U.S.-Russia relations. Trump, though, has continued to view Putin as a potential ally, particularly when it comes to dealing with North Korea.
At his news conference on Thursday, Putin dismissed talk of election interference as “invented” and blamed “spy-mania.”
“All of this has been invented, made up by people who are in opposition to President Trump,” he said.
Putin also noted during the news conference that he calls Trump “Donald” when they talk and that Trump calls him by his first name.
He also offered praise for Trump’s handling of the U.S. economy.
“We see some quite serious achievements, even in this short period of time that he’s been working,” Putin said. “Look at the markets, how they’ve risen. That shows investors’ confidence in the American economy. It shows they believe in what President Trump is doing in this area.”