A handshake in Helsinki, then two presidents get down to business

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United States president Donald Trump on Monday met his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during a one on one meeting in Helsinki.

President Trump arrives in Helsinki for a meeting with Vladimir Putin; the "Special Report" All-Star panel weighs in.

The US President said he hoped for an "extraordinary relationship" with Moscow before leaning across a small table to shake hands with the Russian leader. "I hope so. I have been saying, and I'm sure you've heard over the years, as I campaigned, that getting along with Russian Federation is a good thing, not a bad thing".

Critics and Trump's own advisers have urged Trump to use the summit to press Putin hard about "malign" activities.

Trump has adopted the phrase "Rigged Witch Hunt!" to describe the investigation by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, into meddling in the 2016 presidential election, which last week indicted a dozen Russian military intelligence officers for hacking and leaking Democratic party emails.

The Russian ministry of foreign affairs tweeted its response, saying "We agree".

Trump's opponents at home were furious, with one Democratic congressman tweeting that Trump had turned the White House into "a propaganda arm for the Kremlin". Mr Trump did not list election meddling among the topics to be discussed.

Mr Putin appeared to smirk as Mr Trump ignored shouted questions about whether he would warn the Russian leader against meddling in the 2018 midterm elections.

He said European countries shouldn't be anxious about a possible U.S.

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The Kremlin has played down expectations.

But Putin's spokesman said he hopes the summit is a "baby step" toward fixing the two country's relations.

"Nothing bad's gonna come out of it, and maybe some good will come out", Trump said. "There is no clear agenda". Later they will be joined by USA national security adviser Mike Pompeo, Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, and Jon Huntsman, the U.S. ambassador to Russian Federation.

Having campaigned on a promise to improve ties with Putin, Trump's meeting the Kremlin leader over the objections of USA lawmakers after a grand jury indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers on Friday for their alleged role in meddling with the 2016 election.

Trump's foes at home have been scathing about his apparent refusal to criticise Putin.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. "We'll do just fine, thank you", he told reporters who asked what he had to say to Putin. The leaders will then take questions at a press conference before going their separate ways. Trump has provided lethal aide, but to questionable effect.

The meeting started about 45 minutes late after Putin's delayed arrival to Finland. Meanwhile, his criticisms of countries in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation failing to pay their fair share is yet another example of Trump providing fake news to support his shaky argument. You know, the Russians take the position, you can like it or not like it, that their constitution forbids them to extradite Russian citizens.

Mr. Trump made clear his desire to improve ties with Mr. Putin's Russian Federation. "To maintain our partnership with the U.S. we must readjust it".

"Russia has done nothing to deserve us meeting them in this way", said Nina Jankowicz, a global fellow at the Wilson Center's Kennan Institute who specialises in Russia, Ukraine and disinformation.

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