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Trump calls Putin to congratulate him on re-election

UPDATED: Tue., March 20, 2018

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as he speaks during a meeting with opposition candidates who ran against him in yesterday's presidential election, Boris Titov, Maxim Suraykin, Ksenia Sobchak, Vladimir Zhirinivsky, Pavel Grudinin, Sergei Baburin and Grigory Yavlinsky, at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Monday, March 19, 2018. (Yuri Kadobnov / Associated Press)
Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as he speaks during a meeting with opposition candidates who ran against him in yesterday's presidential election, Boris Titov, Maxim Suraykin, Ksenia Sobchak, Vladimir Zhirinivsky, Pavel Grudinin, Sergei Baburin and Grigory Yavlinsky, at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Monday, March 19, 2018. (Yuri Kadobnov / Associated Press)
By Vladimir Isachenkov Associated Press

MOSCOW – U.S. President Donald Trump called Russian President Vladimir Putin to congratulate him on his re-election Tuesday and the leaders discussed arranging a possible bilateral meeting, the Kremlin and Trump said.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed that Trump spoke with Putin Tuesday morning. She said a summary of the call would be released later.

The Kremlin said in a statement that the two presidents also spoke about the need to “coordinate efforts to limit the arms race” and closer cooperation on strategic stability and counter-terrorism.

“A special attention was given to considering the issue of a possible bilateral summit,” the Kremlin statement said.

In addition, Trump and Putin expressed satisfaction with the apparent easing of tensions over North Korea’s weapons program, according to the Kremlin.

Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying that the two leaders didn’t discuss the poisoning of Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal in Britain.

British officials have blamed the nerve agent attack on Skripal and his adult daughter on Russia. Russia has denied the accusations.

Trump offered highlights from what he called a “very good call” with Putin. He said he wants to meet with Putin in the “not too distant future” to discuss the “arms race” between Russia and the U.S.

Trump said he also wants to discuss Ukraine, North Korea, and Syria with the Russian leader.

The Kremlin said Putin and Trump also discussed the Ukrainian crisis and the 7-year Syrian war, talked about expanding economic ties and discussed energy issues.

The presidents “agreed to develop further bilateral contacts, taking into account changes in the U.S. State Department,” the Kremlin statement said in a reference to Trump’s decision to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

Moscow has repeatedly said it hoped for better ties with the U.S. under Trump. Relations between the two countries instead have remained tense amid the allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the investigations of whether there was collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

The White House said Monday that it was “not surprised by the outcome” of Sunday’s presidential election in Russia and that no congratulatory call was planned.

Putin received calls from a number of other foreign leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Many others, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, sent congratulatory telegrams.

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