Trump wants good relationship with Russia, May says sanctions should stay

US President Donald Trump said on Friday he wanted to have good relations with Russia and declined to say whether he was ready to lift sanctions on Moscow.

US President Donald Trump said on Friday he wanted to have good relations with Russia and declined to say whether he was ready to lift sanctions on Moscow, which visiting British Prime Minister Theresa May said must stay in place.

Speaking at a news conference after his first meeting with a foreign leader at the White House since becoming president, Trump said he hoped to have a “fantastic relationship” with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but he said it was possible that would not occur.

Any move by the White House to lift sanctions against Russia for its actions in Ukraine would likely cause consternation among European allies who believe sanctions should be lifted only if Moscow complies with the West’s conditions on Ukraine.

Those concerns would be compounded at home, where many in the US Congress are vehemently opposed to Putin’s actions in Ukraine and Syria as well as what US intelligence agencies have concluded was Russian meddling in the US election campaign.

May told the news conference she believed sanctions against Russia should stay in place until Moscow fulfilled its obligations under the Minsk agreement.

She also made a point of emphasizing that during their talks, Trump had given strong backing to NATO, an alliance that the president has previously called obsolete.

Putin and Trump are likely to discuss the sanctions when the two leaders speak by telephone on Saturday, a senior White House aide said.

Trump has ‘friendly’ call with Mexican leader but demands change

Trump said he had a friendly phone call with Mexico’s president on Friday but asserted he will renegotiate trade deals and other aspects of the countries’ ties because Mexico has “beat us to a pulp” in the past.

Mexico’s peso extended gains on news of the call.

The two men spoke for about an hour on Friday, a day after President Enrique Pena Nieto scrapped a planned meeting in Washington next week over Trump’s instance that Mexico pay for a multibillion-dollar border wall.

“It was a very, very friendly call,” Trump told a joint news conference.

“We are going to be working on a fair relationship and a new relationship” with Mexico, Trump added. “But the United States cannot continue to lose vast amounts of business, vast amounts of companies and millions and millions of people losing their jobs.

“That won’t happen with me.”

Trump’s fresh insistence that Mexico pay for the wall and Pena Nieto’s cancellation of his visit deepened a crisis between the two countries in the first week of Trump’s presidency.

Trump said Mexico has “out-negotiated us and beat us to a pulp through our past leaders. They’ve made us look foolish.”

He said the United States will “renegotiate our trade deals and we’re going to renegotiate other aspects of our relationship with Mexico. And in the end I think it will be good for both countries.”

The Republican president views the wall, a major promise during his election campaign, as part of a package of measures to curb illegal immigration. Mexico has long insisted it will not heed Trump’s demands to pay for the construction project.

An official at the Mexican president’s office confirmed the call and said a statement would be issued later with more details.


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