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Trump still considers Putin to be a strong leader

"I’m not saying that positively or negatively," Trump went on to say

NEW YORK, March 27 /TASS/. U.S. billionaire and presidential candidate Donald Trump still said in an interview with The New York Times published on Saturday that he still considered Russian President Vladimir Putin to be a strong leader.

"I’m just saying he’s a strong leader. That’s pretty obvious that he’s a strong leader," the businessman said.

"But I never said good, bad, or indifferent. I said he is a strong leader, he is a strong leader. But …I’m not saying that positively or negatively," Trump went on to say.

Putin welcomed Trump’s words that he would upgrade U.S. relations with Russia if he wins the presidential race at the annual news conference on December 17, 2015.

At the same time, the Russian leader preferred not give any assessments of the billionaire’s election campaign or his rhetoric.

"He [Trump] says that he wants more profound relations with Russia. We can only welcome it and we are certainly welcoming it," Putin said.

"It’s not our business to determine his [Trump’s] merits. But he is the real leader of the presidential race," Putin said. "There is no doubt that he is a bright and talented person," the Russian president added. Putin refrained from assessing the statements, which Trump has been making to increase his popularity ratings during the U.S. election campaign.

"As for the internal political things or the phrases of speech which he uses to boost his popularity - that does not concern Russia at all. It’s not our task to assess his work," the Russian leader stressed.