- The Washington Times - Friday, November 11, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump’s foreign policy plans share “incredible” similarities with those of Russian President Vladimir Putin, a Kremlin spokesman said Thursday.

Both men “set out the same main foreign policy principles, and that is incredible,” Mr. Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters in New York City this week while comparing Mr. Trump’s White House victory speech with remarks made recently by his soon-to-be Russian counterpart.

“It is phenomenal how close they are to one another when it comes to their conceptual approach to foreign policy,” Mr. Peskov told reporters in New York, Russian state TV’s Channel One reported, where he appeared as Moscow’s representative at the World Chess Championship in Manhattan.

“And that is probably a good basis for our moderate optimism that they will at least be able to start a dialogue to start to clear out the Augean stables in our bilateral relations,” the spokesman added, according to Reuters. 

Mr. Trump repeatedly praised the Russian leader prior to defeating Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, and vowed to mend the tattered relationship between the former Cold War rivals if elected president, the likes of which has continued to suffer in recent years due in part to either nation’s involvement in uprisings in Ukraine and Syria.

“Trump said, the main thing for me is America and [its] interests, but we will be ready to build relationships and to engage in dialogue with any country in so far as this country is ready. Putin has said the same thing, only, of course, speaking of the absolute priority for him that Russia’s national interests,” Mr. Peskov said Thursday, according to Meduza, an English-language Russian news site.

Mr. Putin personally congratulated Mr. Trump on his White House win early Wednesday in a telegram that said he hoped relations between the two nations would improve “from their crisis state.”

His spokesman, Mr. Peskov, told The Associated Press on Thursday that the Kremlin had frequent talks with both U.S. presidential candidates prior to Election Day, but Mr. Trump’s campaign has denied the claim.

“It never happened,” Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks told AP in response this week. “There was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign.”

Mr. Peskov’s trip to New York marked a rare occasion for the Kremlin in recent years given Washington’s imposition of sanctions, including travel bans against multiple Kremlin officials, as a result of Russia’s annexation of Crimes and subsequent aggression in eastern Ukraine.

The Obama administration and Mrs. Clinton’s campaign have both accused Russia of using cyberattacks and email leaks to influence the outcome of the U.S. election, but Mr. Putin and others in the Kremlin have denied the claims. 

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