U.S. President Donald Trump is promising that "big results" will eventually come from his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and says that Moscow "has agreed to help with North Korea."
Trump made the remarks on Twitter on July 18, as he continued to face sharp criticism from U.S. lawmakers and others who denounced his statements at a news conference with Putin after the meeting in Helsinki.
"Putin and I discussed many important subjects at our earlier meeting," Trump tweeted, apparently referring to the one-on-one talks he and Putin held with only translators present at the start of the one-day summit on July 16.
"We got along well which truly bothered many haters who wanted to see a boxing match," Trump wrote. "Big results will come!"
Trump wrote that a July 11-12 NATO summit in Brussels was "an acknowledged triumph," repeating a disputed claim that member countries agreed to increase defense spending more quickly than they had planned.
He added that "the meeting with Russia may prove to be, in the long run, an even greater success. Many positive things will come out of that meeting."
Trump did not go into detail in a series of tweets, but he wrote: "Russia has agreed to help with North Korea, where relationships with us are very good and the process is moving along."
"There is no rush, the sanctions remain! Big benefits and exciting future for North Korea at end of process!" Trump tweeted, apparently referring to efforts to rid North Korea of nuclear weapons and eliminate its program to create them.
Trump’s summit with Putin came after a June 12 meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that produced a joint statement committing the sides to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Critics of Trump say that the joint statement with North Korea was vague and did not amount to a commitment by Pyongyang to abandon nuclear weapons.
Trump faced fiercer criticism from U.S. lawmakers — including some Republicans — who said he failed to hold Putin accountable for Russian actions such as what U.S intelligence agencies said was a campaign of interference in the 2016 U.S. election.
Trump sought to calm the storm in comments on July 17, saying that he misspoke in Helsinki when he stated that he saw no reason to think that Russia had meddled.
"The sentence should have been, ‘I don’t see any reason…why it wouldn’t be Russia’" that interfered, Trump said.
He said that he accepted the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia meddled in the election, but added: "It could be other people also. A lot of people out there."
Trump’s comments on July 17 came minutes after the leader of the Republican majority in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, warned Russia not to interfere in the November 2018 midterm elections and said the Senate could take up legislation on additional sanctions against Russia.
McConnell also said that NATO was the United States’ "most significant military alliance in history," adding that "the European countries are our friends and the Russians are not."
Democrats in Congress dismissed Trump’s statement acknowledging Russia interfered in the election as political damage control.
"This has to be recognized for what it is, which is simply an effort to clean up the mess he made yesterday, which is beyond the capacity of any short statement to repair," said Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee in the House of Representatives.
Meanwhile, the Russian ambassador to North Korea, Aleksandr Matsegora, told state-run news agency RIA Novosti in an interview published on July 18 that a summit between Putin and North Korea’s Kim was "on the agenda."
He did not say whether a date had been set.
With reporting by Reuters and RIA Novosti
Source: Radio Free Europe