Washington, March 21: US President Dold Trump called his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to congratulate him on his re-election, leading to fresh criticism of his muted tone towards Moscow amid an ongoing probe into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election. In a telephonic conversation on Tuesday, Trump did not raise with Putin the “lopsided” ture of his victory, Russia’s meddling in the US presidential polls or Moscow’s role in a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter in the UK, the Washington Post reported.
Trump congratulates Putin on re-election
The President described his conversation with Putin as a “very good call” and said they talked on a range of topics including arms control and the security situations in Syria and North Korea. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that the case of poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the UK was not discussed. “We’ll probably be meeting in the not-too-distant future,” Trump said of Putin, though Sanders emphasized that nothing was planned. Two officials familiar with the briefing material given to the President acknowledged that they included instructions not to congratulate Putin.
The President’s failure to raise Moscow’s alleged poisoning of the former spy in Britain in the phone call drew a rebuke from Setor John McCain, chairman of the Sete Armed Services Committee, who wrote on Twitter: “An American President does not lead the Free World by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections.
Trump is not the first Commander-in-Chief to call Putin to congratulate him on winning re-election. Former President Barack Obama called the Russian leader in 2012 and, according to a White House readout, congratulated him on winning his last re-election campaign. Trump and Putin last met in Vietm during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. The two did not hold a formal meeting, but they did informally talk a number of times during the two-day summit. The talks, while brief, looked friendly. (IANS)