>> Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his US counterpart Donald Trump a New Year letter over the weekend, telling him that Moscow was ready for dialogue on a, quote, wide ranging agenda. That's according to a statement from the Kremlin on Sunday which said Putin stressed that Russia US relations are the most important factor for providing strategic stability and international security.
The letter comes after a rocky year for US Russia relations and follows a series of failed attempts to hold a new summit since the two leaders met in Helsinki in July, when Trump appeared to side with the Russian President over US intelligence agencies on whether Moscow interfered in the 2017 election.
>> He just said it's not Russia. I will say this, I don't see any reason why it would be.>> Trump later had to walk back those comments.>> I said the word would instead of wouldn't.>> The last planned meeting with Putin was set up for late November on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina, but Trump cancelled it after Russian forces fired on and siezed three Ukrainian Navy ships.
24 Ukrainian sailors are still detained in Russia. Putin sent New Year greetings to other world leaders too including Xijing Ping of China, Shinzo Abe of Japan and British Prime Minister Theresa May. Putin wished, quote, well being and prosperity to the British people at the end of the same year the Kremlin was accused of carrying out a nerve toxin attack in March on former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury.
The two suspects in that attack told Russian television they were innocent tourists who went there to view a cathedral, but UK media drawing on leaked passport information identified the two as officers with Russia's GRU military intelligence agency. Russia denies any involvement in the poisoning. It also recently drafted legislation aimed at stopping leaks of personal data from state agencies, like passport information.
Rounding out his holiday checklist, Putin sent a New Year letter to Syrian President Bashar Al Assad as well. In it, Putin pledged continuation of aide to the Syrian government. Last week, Trump abruptly ordered a complete withdrawal of troops from Syria. Putin himself welcomed the decision. The order has drawn widespread criticism, and prompted the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.