Trump: Putin Is a Great Believer in Israel, He Is a Fan of Bibi

The U.S. president says Russian counterpart 'helps Israel and will continue to help Israel. This is good for all of us' and claims Putin is a 'great believer in Israel, a fan of Bibi'

President Trump and Russian President Putin during a press conference in Helsinki, July 16, 2018.
KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS

U.S. President Donald Trump said that he and Russian President Vladimir Putin "reached a very good conclusion regarding Israel" during the pair's meeting in Helsinki on Monday. 

>> In Helsinki, Trump hazed America as if he were Putin’s puppet | Analysis  In Helsinki, Trump and Putin just ripped Europe apart | Opinion ■ Trump talks Iran, Syria with Netanyahu  <<

The American president, who gave an interview to Fox News' Sean Hannity, said that he was under the impression that Putin was "a great believer in Israel, he is a fan of Bibi." 

Trump also said that Putin "helps him [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] a lot and will continue to help a lot, which is good for all us." 

The two men mentioned Israel during the press conference and expressed their readiness to continue their support for the peace agreement between Israel and Syria signed in 1974. "It will help us calm the situation on the Golan Heights," Putin said. 

Trump added that "We have worked with Israel for decades - there has never been a country closer to us, and Putin is also very close to Israel, we have both talked to Benjamin Netanyahu, and both countries want to help Israel defend itself."

Prime Minister Netanyahu congratulated the two presidents on their words.

In the interview with Fox following the summit, Trump also said that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election has "driven a wedge between us and Russia."

Trump claimed that Putin told him: "It's really a shame, because we could do so much good" on the FBI investigation.

At a joint press conference following their meeting, Trump said he had no reason to believe that Russia intervened in the elections. Putin denied Russian interference at the press conference, and in an interview he gave to Fox News' Chris Wallace, he called the allegations "utterly ridiculous." Putin also denied claims that he or his government had "incriminating material" about Trump and his family.

At the press conference, the Russian president also referred to the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence operatives accused of cyberattacks on Democratic organizations during the elections. Putin made a proposal in which Mueller would work with Russian officials to investigate cybercrimes against American political organizations. Trump told Hannity that he was "fascinated" by Putin's proposal but said he dismissed it because he thought Mueller and his team "probably won't want to go." 

North Korea's nuclear weapons program also came up in Trump's interview. The president noted that Putin is interested in helping on the matter, but added: "There's no rush, it has been going on for many years." 

Trump said that the United States and Russia account for "90 percent" of the world's nuclear weapons "and we've had a phony, witch hunt deal drive us apart." Trump accused several senior US intelligence officials of his persecution.

In the interview, Trump said that his meeting with Putin was "very long, a good meeting." Trump added that before the meeting, he thought that the U.S. has a problem with Russia, but now the relations between the two countries are good.