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Trump-Putin phone call ruffles feathers in West


US President Donald Trump held phone calls with five world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Trump and Angela Merkel discussed issues ranging from NATO to Russia to the situation in the Middle East. The conversation affirmed the importance of close German-American cooperation to each country’s security. Trump accepted Merkel’s invitation to attend the G-20 summit in Hamburg in July. Merkel has pushed the US to maintain sanctions on Russia over its incursion into Ukraine, and has denounced Putin’s support of Syrian leader Bashar Al-Assad.
The conversation came after Trump halted the US refugee program and suspended all immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries. Germany has accepted 1.1 million refugees over the past year, which Trump called a ‘catastrophic mistake.’
On the other hand, Trump and Putin pledged cooperation in fighting IS terrorists, as both leaders seek to ease tension after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, its support for Syria, and allegations that Russian hackers sought to sway the US election. The phone call, which lasted an hour, was a much needed step in the direction of improving the relationship between the United States and Russia that is in need of repair. Putin reaffirmed that the US is the most important partner in the fight against international terrorism. But there is general consensus among most of the world leaders that Russia’s support of Assad has nothing to do with IS fighters, arguing that Moscow only targeted rebels not affiliated with terror group.
Trump’s critics have questioned the wisdom of his calls for better ties with Putin, especially in light of the US intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia hacked e-mails of the Democratic National Committee and other Democrats in a bid to swing the November election in Trump’s favour.
Trump has said he would consider easing financial penalties imposed by the US over the annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine in 2014 in exchange for Russia’s support on a nuclear weapons deal or fighting terror groups like IS. But GOP has warned Trump not to lift sanctions. Actually some lawmakers of US Congress are seeking to add still more sanctions because of the hacking.
“I’m absolutely opposed to lifting sanctions on Russia,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican said . “If anything, we ought to be looking at increasing them.”
The White House press secretary Sean Spicer denied that any decision was taken on Russian sanctions. Trump and Putin expressed desire for active joint efforts to stabilize and develop Russia-American relations on a constructive and mutually beneficial basis. It is not yet clear whether both leaders reached any deals in that phone call. Kremlin and White House staff said that the leaders could reach practical agreements only after they see each other.
One thing which can be inferred from their talks is that Russia and American interests overlap in a number of areas, including the fight against terrorism, the Arab-Israeli conflict, Iran’s nuclear program, the situation on the Korean peninsula and the Ukraine crisis.Moscow has applauded Trump’s promises to rebuild US-Russian relations, which have been pushed to their worst level since the Cold War.But Trump’s tempered approach to US-Russia relations has raised concern among several European allies who believe keeping Russia in check is essential to regional security. Although, it is too early to reach any conclusion about Trump-Putin conversation, but the outcome will be worth waiting for.

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