Trump Paints Putin as ‘Competitor’ Ahead of Helsinki Summit

Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin

President Donald Trump characterized Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “competitor” ahead of a July 16 bilateral meeting between the two in Helsinki, Finland.

President Trump stopped to speak with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House on Tuesday before boarding Marine One and heading to the NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium. Those reporters pressed Trump to define Putin as “friend or foe.”

“I really can’t say right now,” Trump told the press, choosing his own definition instead. “As far as I’m concerned, a competitor.”

“I think that getting along with Russia, getting along with China, getting along with others is a good thing, not a bad thing,” said Trump. “I’ve said that many times for many years.”

“So we’ll see,” Trump resolved. “We’re meeting with Vladimir Putin on Monday.  We’ll see how that goes.”

During an earlier question about Brexit, Trump spoke of his NATO meetings, his visit to the United Kingdom for meetings in London, and his bilateral meeting with Putin. He said NATO has not treated the United States “fairly,” and turmoil in the U.K. over Prime Minister Theresa May’s handling of Brexit negotiations. Several officials involved in Brexit negotiations have resigned over what has been described as May’s mismanagement of the negotiations to get the United Kingdom out of the European Union.

“Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of them all.  Who would think?” Trump told the reporters Tuesday before leaving the White House. “Who would think?  But the UK certainly has a — they have a lot of things going on.”

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