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Expert believes Trump wants to pull US-Russia relations out of deadlock

The expert believes foreign policy has a purely applied meaning for Donald Trump, considering the unfavorable atmosphere that surrounded his arrival at the White House

MOSCOW, January 29. /TASS/. U.S. President Donald Trump really wants to tap a way out of the deadlock in U.S.-Russian relations, the editor-in-chief of Russian in Global Affairs magazine, Fyodor Lukyanov told TASS on Sunday in a comment on the telephone conversation that Presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump had on Saturday.

"From what is known about the conversation, one can guess it was marked by the tonality it was to be marked by, namely, an encouraging one," Lukyanov said. "Trump really wants to pull the relations between the U.S. and Russia out of the deadlock. For truth's sake, we should admit George W. Bush and Barack Obama were seeking positive relationship with Russia, too, so there's basically nothing new in this wish."

He also mentioned the intense attention to the Putin-Trump telephone conversation.

"On the one hand, there's nothing unusual in a conversation between the leaders of two countries, as all the U.S. presidents make contacts with the crucial foreign policy partners after inauguration and discuss some general issues with them," Lukyanov said. "On the other hand, Donald Trump is an extraordinary president since he has declared a change of the U.S. political paradigm, and in this light routine conversations are believed to become meatier."

"It's difficult to say so far if Trump's conversations contained any new elements because we'll hardly learn details on them," he said.

"Reason number two (for the heightened interest) is the hysteria unwound in the U.S. around claims that Trump is virtually the Kremlin's puppet," Lukyanov said. "The latter assertion has become a guideline in the attacks on Trump for purely domestic reasons. They stand wide apart from reality and, strictly speaking, are related to Russia but loosely, as all of this is internal American brawling.

Still he believes Putin and Trump discussed the situation in the Middle East, in the first place.

"If you take what they discussed, there was a discussion of the Middle East because sweeping changes in position are expected there while other issues were discussed in the 'let's-work-together' key.

"One could scarcely expect anything substantial from the first conversation between the two leaders," Lukyanov said.

Lukyanov believes Putin and Trump might have a face-to-face meeting soon "if one looks at how briskly Trump got down to work."

"I think he doesn’t want to procrastinate with the meeting," said Lukyanov, who is the editor-in-chief of a highly rated analysis magazine. "The U.S. President will do his best to affirm a system of priorities and an agenda of some kind."

Lukyanov is confident foreign policy has a purely applied meaning for Trump, considering the unfavorable atmosphere that surrounded his arrival at the White House.

"He must display his relevance, activity and capability to do what he finds necessary," he said. "That’s an important thing in America because they respect the leaders with fighting abilities there. They may disagree with such leaders but they anyway reckon with the latter. Incidentally, this is something Barack Obama didn’t manage to do over the two terms in the presidential office."

"The Putin-Trump summit will most likely take place soon but it can’t be an empty function and the two sides will do some kind of active work now to draft and flesh out an agenda for the meeting," Lukyanov said.

He shared his vision of the priority issues that both Presidents might discuss at the summit. "Clearly the Middle East will be the main issue and it won’t confine to struggle with terrorism," he said.

"Unfortunately, as we can see from our years-long experience, making statements about a common threat than to put them into practice because professionals on both side have too little trust in one another.

"The Middle East is important because very big shifts are taking place there and some of them are unfolding in the format of the Astana process (the direct talks between the Syrian government and the opposition on January 23-24 in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana in the presence of Russia, Turkey and Iran as guarantor countries)," Lukyanov said.

"Along with trying to distance itself from these processes, America can’t ignore them fully or let them slide," he said. "But before an understanding of possibility or impossibility of joint struggle takes contours, it’s important to realize what Donald Trump wants in the Middle East in general and what system of priorities he harbors."

"He said more than once he would change everything but hasn’t said so far what direction he would impart to that change," Lukyanov said.

He also said he thought Putin and Trump did not discuss the anti-Russian sanctions during the conversation.

"It doesn’t make any sense to discuss the sanctions as such because Russia and the U.S. should discuss what they actually are for each other, in the first place," Lukyanov said. "Generally speaking, the sanctions are not a subject for discussion and it’d be absolutely strange to take them up right during the first conversation."

"They are a byproduct of relationship between the two countries," he said. "What matters is how this relationship progresses, how its structure is formed, what priorities the sides have, where these priorities overlap or differ. These are the most decisive things and the efforts to either lift or, vice versa, to harshen the sanctions will proceed from them."

"Or else, nothing will take place at all," Lukyanov said.