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LONDON, November 5. /TASS/. British musician Sir Elton John has said he was "flattered" after Vladimir Putin rang him and is looking forward to meeting in person with the Russian leader "next year."
"I was very flattered that he reached out to me. I look forward to a further time when I can discuss things with him face to face within the next year," the singer was quoted by the Mirror newspaper as saying.
The singer was in London on Wednesday as part of a campaign to fight against HIV/AIDS. "He [Putin] was very gracious and he spoke good English. He apologized for the hoax call," Elton John said.
In mid-September, the British musician told a BBC interview that he would like to meet with Putin to discuss Russia’s stance on the rights of sexual minorities. Shortly after, Elton John said in an Instagram post that the Russian president had called him.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov later denied that Putin had phoned the British singer. A pair of famous Russian hoaxers then admitted that they had called the musician pretending to be Putin.
Putin called Elton John in late September, this time for real. Peskov said the Russian side made huge efforts to convince the signer that the Russian leader would indeed hold a telephone conversation with him.
"At first he [Elton John] hesitated," Peskov said. "We decided to ask Russian Ambassador to London Alexander Yakovenko to get in touch with the musician and tell him about the phone call. In the beginning, Yakovenko had certain problems to explain to the musician that he was really the Russian ambassador and that the real president of Russia wanted to talk to him," Peskov said adding the ambassador’s diplomatic skills helped him convincing Elton John.