Putin asks Trump for ‘constructive Russian-U.S. dialogue’ in holiday message

Putin asks Trump for ‘constructive Russian-U.S. dialogue’ in holiday message
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Russian President Vladimir Putin told President TrumpDonald John TrumpTed Cruz knocks New York Times for 'stunning' correction on Kavanaugh report US service member killed in Afghanistan Pro-Trump website edited British reality star's picture to show him wearing Trump hat MORE in a holiday message Saturday that his new year hope is for a more "constructive Russian-U.S. dialogue" in 2018.

Putin told Trump in a letter that the two countries should develop “pragmatic cooperation aimed at long-term perspective” on the basis of “equality and mutual respect," The Associated Press reported.

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Relations between the U.S. and Russia have been strained over allegations that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, as well as Russia's annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine.

Putin and Trump spoke several times in 2017, including in November when Trump told reporters he would not "argue" with his Russian counterpart about the country's election interference.

“Every time he sees me he says, ‘I didn’t do that,’ and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it,” Trump told reporters.

“I can’t stand there and argue with him, I would rather have him get out of Syria,” Trump said. “You have President Putin very strongly, vehemently says he has nothing to do with that. Now, you are not going to get into an argument, you are going to start talking about Syria and the Ukraine.”

A spokesman for the Kremlin said earlier this week that Russia is worried about a continuing degrading of relations, including the possibility of more sanctions from the U.S.

"We don’t want to be in a situation where our bilateral relations, which are already in a rather pitiful state, could face even bigger and possibly unbearable risks and dangers," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

"We have concerns about sanctions, but we don’t know what they will be, since it’s all still discussions that aren’t based on any official information," he added.