US President Donald Trump has said it is time to move forward in a constructive United States-Russia relationship after Russian President Vladimir Putin denied meddling in the last year's US presidential election.
Trump on Sunday said he had "strongly pressed" Putin twice about election meddling during their first face-to-face meeting last Friday in Hamburg on the sidelines of G20 summit but did not dispute Moscow's claim that he had accepted Putin's denial of involvement, The New York Times reported.
Trump's account, in a thread of Twitter posts, of his lengthy and closely scrutinized closed-door meeting with Putin was an attempt to move beyond the controversy after Moscow characterized the election discussion as a meeting of minds rather than a showdown between the two leaders.
"I strongly pressed President Putin twice about Russian meddling in our election," Trump said in one post. "He vehemently denied it. I've already given my opinion."
"We negotiated a ceasefire in parts of Syria which will save lives," Trump continued in another message. "Now it is time to move forward in working constructively with Russia!"
The posts, which drew criticism from both Democrats and Republicans, served as Trump's first public comments on the meeting after the White House declined to schedule the customary presidential news conference at the end of the Group of 20 gathering in Hamburg.
Putin, however, broke with his normal practice of not speaking to reporters and held a lengthy news conference, in which he said that Trump had "agreed" with his statements about election interference.
"He raised many questions on the issue," Putin said, according to Sputnik. "I answered all these questions, as far as I could. I think that he took it into account and agreed. Actually, you would better ask him how he found it."
A day before, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the only other Russian official in the meeting, which also included Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, had said that Trump had not only accepted Putin's denial, but also said that the election meddling allegations had been "exaggerated" by some in the United States without proof.
Yet Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, on Sunday described a confrontational meeting between the two presidents and said that Trump "absolutely did not believe the denial of President Putin".