Putin attacks US critics of Helsinki summit with Trump

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday slammed "forces" in the US who were willing to sacrifice Russian-US ties, two days after a summit with his US counterpart Donald Trump who has since faced a storm of criticism.

"We see that there are forces in the US that are easily ready to sacrifice Russian-American relations for their own ambitions," Putin
said in a speech to Russian ambassadors gathered in Moscow.

"We see that there are forces in the US that put their narrow party interests higher than national ones," Putin went on to say.

He added that Russia is "nevertheless open to developing contacts with the US on the basis of equality."

"We need a new positive agenda, aimed at working together and finding common ground," he said. "We talked about this of course while meeting President Trump."

The US leader's embrace of Putin this week drew derision and outrage across the US political spectrum.

On Monday, Trump appeared to accept Putin's denial of Russian interference in the US 2016 presidential election at their joint press conference in Helsinki, sparking uproar in Washington.

The US leader later said he misspoke when he appeared to take Putin's denial of interference at face value and said he accepted the US intelligence community's view that Moscow sought to influence the 2016 vote.

"I thought it would be obvious but I would like to clarify just in case it wasn't. In a key sentence in my remarks I said the word 'would' instead of 'wouldn't'," Trump said in an extraordinary postcript to the Helsinki conference on Tuesday.

"The sentence should have been, 'I don't see any reason why I wouldn't, or why it wouldn't be Russia.'"

On Thursday, FBI director Christopher Wray said the US intelligence community stands by its view that Russia meddled in the 2016 US election, despite Putin's denial.

The two major American political parties appear largely united in their desire to keep the Kremlin in check.

While Trump's position on Russian interference has shifted repeatedly in recent days, some in Trump's party signalled they had had enough of his wrecking ball diplomacy and sought to take steps to box him in.


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