John Fraher: I think I’ll have one more follow-up on that. And I know deep down you love talking about Russia’s relationship with America.
You said that you talked to Donald Trump on quite a lot of things, and he agrees with you on certain areas. Can you just give us a sense of how your relationship is developing? I know you met with him in Hamburg, but, you know, in your conversations with him on the phone. Can you give us a sense of what your personal relationship is like?
Vladimir Putin: Personal relations between us are practically non-existent. We have met once, and talked on the phone several times to discuss various matters of mutual interest, including the Syrian issue.
By the way, in this area we cooperate with the US on many things, and although there are challenges and in some ways our positions are contradictory, nevertheless we come up with joint approaches and solutions, which I am pleased about.
As for our interstate relations, you can see yourself how they are evolving. Our relations have become hostage to the domestic situation in the United States, as I have repeatedly said. Some forces are using Russia-US relations in pursuit of their domestic agenda.
We are patiently waiting for this period in US politics to end. There are fundamental matters of mutual interests, such as non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, fighting cyber-crime, energy policy, by the way, regional conflicts on which we continue to work together, as in Syria, fighting organised crime, terrorism – all these are our common interests. I do hope that sooner or later these fundamental matters of mutual interest will help change the Russia-US relations for the better.
John Fraher: But do you think, just getting back to what you said a moment ago, do you think that Donald Trump has become a hostage of the American political system? That seems to be what you just said.
Vladimir Putin: I think a person like Mr Trump, with his personality, will never be anybody’s hostage.
John Fraher: What would be your advice to him then?
Vladimir Putin: Why don’t you give him advice as a voter? What can I recommend? I get my advice from my voters and the US President must get his advice from his. You are one of them. Present your views as instructions from a voter, on your own behalf or on the behalf of a group, a party, a professional community or a business.
I know that businesses would definitely recommend him to build normal economic ties with Russia, and not allow competitors to take advantage of the Russian market, and work together for the sake of the US economy. There are many companies that would say this. American companies had the largest representation at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum this summer.
We know that we have many friends in the United States who really want to develop relations with us, to establish full-fledged, full-scale cooperation and to improve it. We will maintain a relationship with them regardless of the political climate.
John Fraher: President Trump told you that he personally wants to re-establish normal business ties between Russia and the US?
Vladimir Putin: You should ask him that yourself. I cannot tell you what he told me. You want me to tell you what he said.
John Fraher: I will next time.
That would be nice if you could.
Vladimir Putin: Sure, it would be nice.
John Fraher: I’m a journalist. I’m a journalist, I need to ask these questions.
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