U.S. President Donald Trump described Russia’s Vladimir Putin on Thursday as a “competitor” rather than an “enemy” and said he expected they would get along well when they hold their first summit next week..
Speaking before leaving Brussels where he met NATO leaders, Trump repeated an earlier remark that his meeting with Putin might be the easiest part of a trip that included the summit of the Western military alliance and will also take him to Britain.
“I think we’ll get along well. But ultimately he’s a competitor. He’s representing Russia. I’m representing the United States. So in a sense we’re competitors, not a question of friend or enemy. He’s not my enemy,” Trump said.
“Hopefully some day, maybe he’ll be a friend. It could happen but I don’t know him very well.”
Trump avoided criticizing Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea or calling Putin a threat when asked, saying: “I don’t want him to be, and that’s I guess why we have NATO.”
Trump’s comparatively warm words about Putin were particularly noteworthy given the harsh criticism he leveled at allies during the NATO summit, when he repeatedly berated European countries for spending too little on defense.Reuters
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