Putin and Trump to speak by phone on Saturday

Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Donald Trump

Russian president Vladimir Putin is set to speak by phone with his US counterpart Donald Trump over the weekend, the Kremlin said.

Mr Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the conversation is scheduled for Saturday. They last spoke when Mr Putin congratulated Mr Trump shortly after his election victory last November.

Mr Peskov said the Russian president wants to congratulate Mr Trump on taking office, adding that the two leaders are also expected to “exchange views about main parameters of current bilateral relations”.

He would not elaborate on what specific issues could be discussed and would not say if the two leaders could use the call to agree on a meeting.

The Kremlin has applauded Mr Trump’s promises to mend ties with Moscow, which have plunged to post-Cold War lows over the Ukrainian crisis, the war in Syria and allegations of Russian meddling in the US elections.

Russian officials and parliamentarians have warned, however, that rebuilding ravaged ties will take time.

Barack Obama’s administration and the European Union slapped Moscow with sanctions for its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and support for a pro-Russia insurgency in eastern Ukraine.

The restrictions have limited Russian companies’ access to international financial markets and barred key technology transfers, helping drive the Russian economy into recession. Russia has responded by banning imports of most Western agricultural products.

Asked about the claims that Mr Trump is considering an order to lift the US sanctions against Russia, Mr Peskov said he has no information about it.

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