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Trump, Russia's Putin talk about Syria, icy relations in phone call

By Doug G. Ware
Trump, Russia's Putin talk about Syria, icy relations in phone call
Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on Monday to congratulate him on the election victory and discuss hope that Washington and Moscow can improve relations, the Kremlin said. EPA/Alexei DRuzhinin / Sputnik / Kremlin Pool

WASHINGTON, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- President-elect Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin spent some time on the telephone Monday, as the pair discussed hopes that the two nations can thaw icy relations that have endured for years.

The Kremlin confirmed that the pair spoke by phone Monday and that both Trump and Putin agreed that U.S.-Russian relations are presently at an "unsatisfactory" level.

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Trump's campaign said Putin had called to offer his congratulations on winning the election and the two began discussing a range of issues. The Russian leader had sent Trump a telegram immediately after the victory.

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It remains to be seen exactly how relations might improve under Trump's administration. For years, Washington has feuded with Moscow over a spate of issues, including human rights and corruption, and Russia continues to deal with economic sanctions imposed by Obama's administration.

Russian officials and citizens have expressed happiness with Trump's victory, as they feared Hillary Clinton might continue the status quo on foreign policies.

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Syria was another topic the pair talked about Monday. For many months, Russia and Syrian President Bashar Assad have been allied in their fight against opposition rebels and Islamic militants. Washington, though, has supported the rebels in the country's five-year civil war.

In its statement, the Kremlin said the two leaders share a common goal of "uniting efforts in the fight with the common enemy number one -- international terrorism and extremism."

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