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Trump, Putin Meet After New Charges Over Moscow's 2016 Election Interference

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EPA-EFE  PEKKA SIPOLA

The demonstrations were peaceful and crossed political party lines to protest against both Trump and Putin.

Commentators on popular Sunday night talk show "Vecher" or "Evening" said Putin goes into Monday's summit in Helsinki as the stronger figure, notably coming off his hosting of the World Cup.

"I think we have to protect ourselves", Paul said.

"I don't see any reason why it would be", Trump said. "I stand with our men and women in the US intelligence community, and am highly disturbed by President Trump's statements supporting Putin's baseless, false claims of innocence".

Perhaps for this reason, the Finnish capital was the venue for talks in 2008 between the then chairman of the USA joint chiefs of staff, Mike Mullen, and Russian military chief Nikolai Makarov in the wake of Russia's war on Georgia.

Trump said Sunday that he has "low expectations" for the meeting, but told reporters earlier Monday only that he thinks the meeting will go "fine", refusing to elaborate on what they might discuss. "I hope so. I've been saying it, and I'm sure you've heard over the years, and as I campaigned, that getting along with Russian Federation is good thing, not a bad thing", he said.

"Your first request of Vladimir Putin needs to be, tell us which airport we can pick up the 25 Russians that tried to interfere with the fundamentals of our democracy", Gowdy said.

President Sauli Niinistö expects his colleagues, Vladimir Putin of Russian Federation and Donald Trump of the United States, to mainly concentrate on laying the groundwork for future dialogue in their meeting in Helsinki on Monday, 16 July.

And former Central Intelligence Agency director John Brennan said Trump's behavior at the news conference "rises to & exceeds the threshold of 'high crimes & misdemeanors.' It was nothing short of treasonous".

Trump's comments differ from his previous position. He has said he would raise the issue with Putin in their summit but has suggested it would be perfunctory.

The two leaders appeared relaxed at the Helsinki news conference, smiling on occasion, in contrast to their sombre demeanour at the start of the day.

With Washington and Moscow at loggerheads over Ukraine, Iran and trade tariffs as well as Syria, even Trump has cautioned that he is not approaching the Putin summit "with high expectations".

Trump will then be returning to his hotel before heading to the presidential palace for his highly anticipated talks with Putin.

A post-NATO trip to Britain, supposedly America's partner in a "special relationship", was riddled with controversy as well.

Trump has had warm words for Putin and has been willing to accept his denials of election meddling at face value.

If tangible results from the meeting were thin, the ceremony of it and the civil atmosphere between the two world leaders received considerable attention and was interpreted as a move toward improving the soured relations between Washington and Moscow.

Chants of "We Love Trump, We Love Trump" broke out as the president's motorcade passed and Trump waved. His one-on-one meeting with Putin lasted nearly two hours.

Jon Huntsman, the USA ambassador to Russian Federation, tried rebranding the event in an interview on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday from Norway's capital.

Any Trump request for Russia to extradite hacking suspects is likely to fall on deaf ears, however, as the Kremlin, citing the Russian constitution, has a policy of not handing over suspects wanted by other countries.

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