HELSINKI - Donald Trump met one-on-one with Russia's Vladimir Putin behind closed doors on Monday (July 16) in a long-awaited summit overshadowed by the US president blaming his own country's past "foolishness and stupidity" for the two powers' hostile relations.
Following are highlights of comments made by Trump and Putin at a news conference after their meeting in Finland's capital Helsinki.
ON US-RUSSIA TIES
Trump: "Our relationship has never been worse than it is now, however that changed as of about four hours ago ... To refuse to engage would not accomplish anything."
Putin: "No one should trust anyone. He (Trump) is defending US interests, I am defending interests of the Russian Federation. We have matching interests, we are looking for common points."
ON US INVESTIGATION INTO ALLEGED RUSSIAN MEDDLING IN THE 2016 ELECTION
Trump: "The probe is a disaster for our country. I think it has kept us apart. There was no collusion at all..., so far that I know virtually nothing related to the campaign. It was a clean campaign. I beat Hillary Clinton easily and frankly we beat her…We won that race and it's a shame that there can be even a little bit of a cloud over it.
"Putin just said it's not Russia. I do not see any reason why it should be ... I have great confidence in my intelligence people but President Putin was extremely strong and confident in his denial today."
Putin: "(Trump) touched upon the theme of Russia's so-called meddling (in the 2016 US election). I had to repeat what I've said before, that the Russian state has never interfered and has no intention to interfere."
"We can suggest that the Mueller commission ... files us an official request to carry out interrogation of the people that they deem guilty. Representatives of our prosecutor's office and investigative authorities can carry out these interrogations and file the materials to the United States."
ON EACH OTHER
Trump: "Actually I called him a competitor and a good competitor he is, and I think the word competitor is a compliment."
Putin: "We have good talks, we started to understand each other better."
(Asked whether he wanted Trump to win the 2016 election) "Yes, I did."