Published: Tue, July 17, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

Helsinki summit: Trump says 'might' ask Putin to extradite accused Russian hackers

Helsinki summit: Trump says 'might' ask Putin to extradite accused Russian hackers

US President Donald Trump named Russia, the European Union and China as "foes", in an interview aired on the eve of his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. When asked about who he sees as the U.S.'s biggest foe, he said that the USA has "a lot of foes".

On Friday, Trump said: "I'm not going in with high expectations, but we may come out with very surprising things". I did it. You got me.' There won't be a Perry Mason here, I don't think, but you never know what happens, right?

Contradicting Trump in an interview on ABC's "This Week", U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said the idea of asking Putin to turn over the 12 military intelligence officials was "pretty silly" and argued that doing so would put the U.S. president in a "weak position". But that doesn't mean they're bad. It doesn't mean anything. It means that they are competitors.

Trump and United States officials have made clear they intend to raise a series of issues during the Helsinki summit, from the ongoing civil war in Syria to Russian actions in Ukraine to cyberactivities and North Korea.

He said the summit is important as the start of a dialogue, not only about election meddling but a range of issues.

In an interview with USA network CBS on Saturday, Mr Trump said he "might" press Mr Putin to extradite the indicted Russians. "Nothing bad is going to come out of it, and maybe some good will come out".

The president taped the interview on Saturday in Scotland.

The visit heaped more trouble on the transatlantic alliance after Trump ripped into North Atlantic Treaty Organisation leaders in Brussels for not spending enough on defence, and rebuked Germany for building an energy pipeline from Russian Federation which he said would leave Europe's biggest economy beholden to Moscow.

The U.S. has no extradition treaty with Moscow and can't compel Russian Federation to hand over citizens.

Mueller is investigating possible collusion between Trump's campaign and Russian Federation.

But far from his prediction that the Putin meeting would be the "easiest" part of his swing through Europe, the summit comes freighted with new tensions, after 12 Russian military intelligence agents were indicted for hacking Democrats during the 2016 election. But much of the appeal of the Finland meeting is simply to have the summit itself and to bolster ties between Washington and Moscow and between Putin and Trump, who places his personal rapport with foreign leaders near the heart of his foreign policy.

Intentionally or not, Trump's remarks amount to an admission Putin will come to Helsinki with a hard line on issues ranging from Ukraine to Syria to his government's campaign to upend the last USA presidential election.

Or if Trump's bonding with Putin emboldens Europeans who want to lift sanctions on Russian Federation - the new Italian government, Hungary or Austria.

Russian hacking of the 2016 US presidential election would also be a top item on the agenda, the ambassador said. Trump named the European Union first.

In the face of Kremlin denials, the Trump White House has nonetheless expelled dozens of Russian diplomats and ratcheted up sanctions, moves that have led Trump to claim "no one has been tougher on Russia than I have". "But I certainly, I'll be asking about it", he told Glor. He kind of goes in and wings it", Warner said on NBC's "Meet the Press.

But he told CBS that he was going into it with "low expectations".

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