Putin defends Trump, dismisses collusion suspicion as ’empty chatter’

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday that his country is ready to turn the page and “look to the future” in its dealings with the United States.

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The Russian leader said the fact that he and President Donald Trump didn’t have a full sit-down meeting at a summit in Vietnam as planned shows that the two countries’ relationship is still in a “state of crisis”.

But, Putin said at a news conference in Vietnam, Russia is eager to put an end to the prolonged troubled period between the two countries.

“We are ready to turn over this page and go further, look to the future, solve problems, which are in the interests of the US people and Russian people.”

Trump and Putin had been expected to have a full meeting at the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) summit in Danang, Vietnam, on Friday, but in the end the two only met for a few minutes after the White House announced no formal meeting was planned.

Both sides had suggested a full meeting had been likely to happen. Its not happening was seen as a bad sign for relations between Moscow and Washington after months of diplomatic tit-for-tat and continuing confrontation over Russia’s alleged interference in the U.S. 2016 election.

The no-go on the meeting had seemed a surprise to the Kremlin, which had said it was ready for a full meeting and that the hesitation was on the side of the U.S.

On Saturday, Putin blamed protocol and scheduling issues for the meeting not happening.

“It was connected to the work schedule of Mr. Trump, and with my schedule, and with certain formalities of protocol, which our teams were, unfortunately, unable to resolve,” Putin told reporters. “There will be people punished for that,” he added.

A report in the Russian business newspaper, Kommersant, by its veteran pool correspondent alleged…

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