Ryan Pickrell on July 16, 2018

President Donald Trump met Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday in Helsinki, Finland, amid rising tensions between the U.S. and Russia.

The important meeting between the two world leaders comes amid new indictments of Russian officials in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and worsening ties between Washington and Moscow. The initial meeting was cordial but tense.

“We have a lot of good things to talk about and things to talk about. We have discussions on everything from trade to military to missiles to nuclear,” Trump said during a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart shortly after the two shook hands.

“I think we have great opportunities together as two countries that frankly, we have not been getting along very well for the last number of years,” he added. “I’ve been here not too long, but it’s getting close to two years, but I think we will end up having an extraordinary relationship.”

The president, as his critics were quick to note, did not mention election meddling in his list of topics for discussion, but this issue may be brought up at a later point in the summit, as Trump has said as much. He stressed during the press conference the need for improved relations with Russia. “Getting along with Russia is a good thing,” he explained.

His comments follow a historically inaccurate tweet that suggests that deteriorating U.S.-Russian relations are tied to the ongoing Russia investigation, what the president calls a “witch hunt.” The investigation has yet to produce any solid evidence that Russia influenced the outcome of the presidential election or that the president colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election.

Speaking at the brief press conference, Putin said that rising global tensions made talks between himself and Trump a necessity. “The time has come to talk thoroughly about our bilateral relations, as well as various hotspots in the world,” the Russian president explained with the assistance of a translator. “There are enough of them for us to start paying attention.”

While Trump and Putin meet, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will sit down with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

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