U.S. President Donald Trump says in an interview that President Vladimir Putin is "probably" a "ruthless person," in remarks made ahead of his summit with the Russian leader.
Trump also told Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper in the interview published on July 14 that he "fully intends" to run for reelection in 2020, adding that "it seems like everybody wants me to."
Trump was in Britain as part of his European trip that earlier saw him in Brussels for a NATO summit and will take him to Helsinki for a summit with Putin on July 16.
After interviewer Piers Morgan described North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as a "ruthless dictator," Trump agreed and said he deals with many leaders who are "pretty ruthless people."
Asked if he considered Putin to be ruthless, Trump said: "I can’t tell you that…I assume he probably is. But I could name others also. Look, if we can get along with Russia that’s a good thing. I don’t know him. I met him a couple of times, I met him at the G20."
"I think we could probably get along very well," Trump added, referring to his scheduled summit with Putin.
"Somebody said are you friends or enemies? I said, well, it’s too early to say, but right now I say we’re competitors. But for the United States, and frankly the U.K. and other places, to get along with Russia and China and all of these other places…that’s a good thing, that’s not a bad thing. That’s a really good thing."
Asked if he wanted to put the United States out of NATO, Trump responded by saying, "I don’t even know why you’re asking the question. We have now a much more solid NATO than they’ve had for years."
Some Western allies had interpreted Trump's comments demanding NATO to increase its spending or see the United States "go it alone" as a threat to quit the military alliance.