WASHINGTON – US Republican Party presidential frontrunner Donald Trump said he was honored to receive praise from Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday.
“It is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond,” Trump said at a Thursday rally in Columbus, Ohio, as quoted by The Hill newspaper.
The Russian president welcomed Trump’s call for better US-Russia relations during the annual press conference held on Thursday.
“He is a very bright person, talented without any doubt. It is not our business to assess his worthiness, but he is the absolute leader of the presidential race. He says he wants to move to a different level of relations — a fuller, deeper [level] — with Russia, how can we not welcome this? Of course we welcome this,” Putin said.
In September, Donald Trump said he would “get along” with Putin and deal with Moscow with respect, which in turn would eliminate the issues Russia and the United States are currently experiencing.
Trump stressed on Thursday that he had always spoken in favor of better relations between the United States and Russia.
“I have always felt that Russia and the United States should be able to work well with each other towards defeating terrorism and restoring world peace, not to mention trade and all of the other benefits derived from mutual respect,” Trump said as quoted by The Hill.
US-Russia relations deteriorated in early 2014 largely due to Crimea’s reunification with Russia and the escalation of the internal conflict in Ukraine. Moscow has repeatedly stressed that it is not involved in the Ukrainian conflict, and that Western sanctions introduced against Russia as a punitive measure are counterproductive and hurt all sides involved.
At a Thursday press briefing, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that US President Barack Obama has been successful in managing relations with the Russian government, and that Moscow and Washington have worked effectively in several areas, including the space program, destroying Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile and reaching an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program.