Russian President Vladimir Putin's Helsinki showmanship starts with his new limo

Russian President Vladimir Putin's Helsinki showmanship starts with his new limo

"We are the two great nuclear powers", he said.

"Presidents Trump and Putin respect each other and they get along well", he told Russia's RT television.

The US and Russian Federation were the "two great nuclear powers", Trump added.

Trump congratulated Putin on Russia's hosting of the World Cup football tournament, which climaxed Sunday in Moscow with the Kremlin chief in attendance.

The summit, which was being closely monitored by rattled world capitals, was condemned in advance by members of Congress from both parties after the United States indictment last week of 12 Russian military intelligence officers accused of hacking Democrats in the 2016 election to help Trump's presidential campaign.

Asked by reporters to further comment during a Monday morning breakfast with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto at the Mantyniemi official residence, Trump stuck to the bilateral relationship with Helsinki and last week's meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

"I think that this is a backhanded compliment", he said.

"It's a meeting. This is an attempt to see if we can defuse and take some of the drama, and quite frankly some of the danger, out of the relationship right now".

"I've been saying, and I'm sure you've heard over the years...that getting along with Russian Federation is a good thing not a bad thing", Trump said, seated next to Putin at the start of talks in an ornate presidential palace in neutral Finland.

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The Russian ministry of foreign affairs tweeted its response, saying "We agree". He told CBS News that he didn't "expect anything" from Putin, while his national security adviser said the USA wasn't looking for any "concrete deliverables".

"This is the first high-end luxury vehicle manufactured domestically in many years", says a Russian state media webpage about the Kortezh, in a nod to the old Cold War days in which Soviet-made Zil limousines ferried communist leaders around. Trump laid out a list of topics for discussion that notably did not include Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump adds that relations between the US and Russian Federation have never been worse.

Is Trump bringing up how special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russians nationals over illegal interference in the 2016 election?

The summit would cover nuclear disarmament, said Trump, who has bridled at the rapid expansion and modernisation by Putin of Russia's nuclear arsenal.

Critics and Trump's own advisers have urged Trump to use the summit to press Putin hard about "malign" activities.

Trump did not respond; Putin appeared to smirk.

Foreign policy experts have raised concerns that during one-on-one talks without a clear agenda, Trump might seek to make a grand gesture that offers Putin serious concessions on Crimea, Syria or Ukraine. "It will be determined by the heads of state themselves as they go along".

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