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Trump calls Putin to offer help with Russia forest fires

By
Clyde Hughes
U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Russian leader Vladimir Putin June 28 at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan. File Photo by Michael Klimentyev/Sputnik/EPA-EFE
U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Russian leader Vladimir Putin June 28 at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan. File Photo by Michael Klimentyev/Sputnik/EPA-EFE

Aug. 1 (UPI) -- U.S. President Donald Trump has offered assistance to the Russian government with fighting multiple forest fires that have blackened millions of acres in recent weeks, the White House said Thursday.

Trump spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone to express concern for the "vast wildfires," Trump's press office said.

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The Russian Embassy said Putin welcomed the call and will accept aid if it's needed. Putin said the Russian military is working to contain the fires.

The Siberian fires are so large they can be seen from space. Images from the European Space Agency this week showed large amounts of smoke coming from the fire areas in Kemerovo, Tomsk, Novosibirsk and Altai.

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"The Emergencies Ministry, the Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring and the Federal Forestry Agency provided forecasts to the Siberian regions but regional authorities have failed to take enough measures to prevent wildfires and extinguish them," Russian emergency official Sergei Abanin said.

Abanin accused regional governors of not following fire prevention plans.

"Let me put it straight: local and regional authorities failed to tackle the situation so the federal government was forced to respond to it," Abanin said.

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The White House said the two leaders also discussed trade during Thursday's call, which occurred amid heightened tensions between Washington and Moscow -- primarily over Kremlin interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

"The Russian president viewed Trump's offer as a sign that fully-fledged bilateral relations could be restored in the future," the Kremlin said Wednesday.

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