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PUTIN AND TRUMP SET FOR PHONE CALL AS US PRESIDENT CONSIDERS LIFTING SANCTIONS

[1/27/17]  Vladimir Putin will speak to Donald Trump by telephone on Saturday in their first conversation since the US president’s inauguration, as top Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway told Fox News that removing US sanctions on Russia is “under consideration”.

Diplomats and politicians in many world capitals will be watching the call with unease, as Trump’s positive rhetoric on Russia threatens to disrupt the western consensus of keeping pressure on Moscow over its intervention in Ukraine. Many US senators, including from the Republican party, are also deeply concerned about the prospect of a major rapprochement with Moscow.

Trump has been steadfast in his praise for Putin and Russia, and ascended to the presidency amid allegations of Russian interference in the election campaign.

He has hinted he could look at removing sanctions on Russia, and has suggested the US and Russia could work together in Syria, where Russia is allied with the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad.

Asked on Fox and Friends whether sanctions imposed by the Obama administration were on the table during Saturday’s phone call, Conway said “all of that is under consideration”.

Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the Russian president would congratulate Trump on taking office and would launch a discussion on the current bilateral relationship. He said it was unlikely there would be specific agreements reached in the initial call.

“This is the first telephone contact since President Trump took office, so one should hardly expect that this phone call will involve substantive discussions across the whole range of issues. We’ll see, let’s be patient,” Peskov said.

Peskov said he was unaware of any plans to lift the sanctions.

Conway, a White House senior aide, told This Morning on CBS that Trump and Putin were likely to discuss efforts to combat terrorism.

“I assume they will discuss, in the interests of their respective countries, how to come together and work together on issues where you can find common ground and where these two nations could maybe defeat radical Islamic terrorism,” she said.

Trump was also due to speak with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, on Saturday, a source in Berlin told Reuters, in a call likely to focus on Russia policy.

Earlier this month, Trump tweeted: “Both countries will, perhaps, work together to solve some of the many great and pressing problems and issues of the WORLD!”

Last July, he said at a press conference: “Wouldn’t it be nice if we actually got along with people? Wouldn’t it be nice if we actually got along, as an example, with Russia? I am all for it.”

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