U.S. President Donald Trump met one-on-one with Russian President Vladimir Putin behind closed doors on Monday in a long-awaited summit overshadowed by the U.S. president blaming his own country’s past “foolishness and stupidity” for the two powers’ hostile ties.
Just days after a special prosecutor indicted 12 Russian agents for stealing documents from the Democratic Party to help Trump win the 2016 presidential election, Trump went into his talks with Putin without a word of criticism for Moscow.
Instead, he tweeted: “Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!”
The Russian foreign ministry “liked” his words and tweeted back: “We agree”.
Trump’s opponents at home were furious, with one Democratic congressman saying that Trump had turned the White House into “a propaganda arm for the Kremlin”.
After two hours alone in a room with their interpreters, Trump and Putin convened a more traditional-style bilateral meeting, seated at a large conference table surrounded by senior officials from both countries. Trump called the private talks with the Kremlin leader a “good start”.
Earlier Trump began the meeting with warm words for Putin, seated next to the Russian leader in an ornate presidential palace in Finland, and said it was a longstanding goal of his to improve U.S.-Russian relations.
“I think we will have an extraordinary relationship. I hope so. I’ve been saying it, and I’m sure you’ve heard over the years, and as I campaigned, that getting along with Russia is good thing, not a bad thing,” he said.
But to Trump’s critics, the friendly words lay in the shadow of his extraordinary denunciation of his own country’s prior policies, which he tweeted hours before Putin arrived.
In his public remarks at the outset, he mentioned none of the issues that have lately brought U.S.-Russian relations to the lowest point since the Cold War: Moscow’s annexation of territory from Ukraine, its support for Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, British accusations that it poisoned a spy, as well as the alleged meddling in both U.S. and European elections.
“Our relationship with Russia is strained because of the very malign actions he’s refusing to take Russia to task for,” tweeted Democratic U.S. Representative Gregory Meeks, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “Though relations were worse during the Cold War, at least then the US Presidency wasn’t a propaganda arm for the Kremlin.”
The Kremlin has played down expectations for the summit. It said it did not expect much from the meeting but hoped it would be a “first step” to resolving a crisis in ties.
“Presidents Trump and Putin respect each other and they get along well,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “There is no clear agenda. It will be determined by the heads of state themselves as they go along.”
However, that the summit was taking place at all was a victory for Russia, which has long blamed irrational “Russophobia” for its geopolitical semi-pariah status.
Coronavirus: Wuhan Begins To Return To Everyday Life
After more than two months of isolation, residents of Wuhan, China where it is believed to be the origin of the coronavirus outbreak, have been allowed to leave their homes for the first time in months as authorities are easing the city-wide lockdown that kept Wuhan’s 11 million residents at home.
Although, many shops are still closed after numbers of new cases of covid-19 have fallen dramatically, sidewalk vendors can be seen wearing face masks and gloves as they sold pork, tomatoes, carrots and other vegetables to shoppers on Friday.
Since the lockdown on January 23, many restaurants, shops and other businesses shut down in the city as residents relied on online groceries and government-organized food deliveries.
Residents have been slowly trickling back on to the streets of Wuhan which recorded more than 50,000 coronavirus cases. At least 3,000 persons died in Hubei province from coronavirus.
Volunteers in protective suits disinfected public areas in preparation for an increase in activity. Officials are concerned about the possibility of a second wave of infections, warning people to remain vigilant as it orders local health authorities to step up detection, monitoring and supervision.
A total of 81,589 confirmed cases have been reported in China, which exclude asymptomatic patients, and 3,318 deaths from the outbreak.
Globally, the number of cases has topped 1 million, with at least 52,000 deaths.
US President Donald Trump Says New Recommendations On Face Masks Are Coming
The Trump administration says it is ready to join forces with local officials to advise Americans to wear masks when leaving their houses as covid-19 cases escalate in the US.
For the first time, the death toll in the country rose by one thousand in a single day.
A member of president Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force, Deborah Birx said at a White House briefing the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would add a recommendation on masks to guidelines on protective measures in the coming days.
U.S. Covid-19 death toll, as of Thursday, stood at fifty-eight hundred with more than 243,000 cases across all 50 states.
The Trump administration, CDC and public health officials have all wavered on the issue of face masks since the pandemic broke out, initially telling healthy people such measures were unnecessary or even counter-productive.
Global Coronavirus Cases Top One Million, Deaths Surpass 50,000
The number of coronavirus infections reached more than one million globally on Thursday as death toll topped 50,000 around the world.
As the pandemic spreads further in the United States and the death toll climbed in Spain and Italy, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University, nearly 53,000 persons have died and more than 210,000 have recovered worldwide.
The US reported the highest daily death toll of any country so far at nearly 1,200. It now has more than 6,000 fatalities while Spain reported a record one-day number of deaths, 950, bringing its overall toll to 10,003 from 9,053 as the number of infections rose to 110,238, up from 102,136 a day earlier.
Meanwhile, Italy on Thursday recorded 760 more deaths for a total of 13,900 fatalities as the contagion spreads.
Coronavirus was first recorded in China late last year, since then the pandemic has spread to many countries around the world, prompting governments to close businesses, ground airlines and order hundreds of millions of people to stay at home to try and combat the spread of the virus.
More than 1,013,000 persons have been diagnosed with COVID-19 globally with Spain the second-worst hit in terms fatalities.
Spain has lost nearly 900,000 jobs and the US is also feeling the economy impact as the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefit has surged to 6.65m in the week ending March 28, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics figure released on Thursday.
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