U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley walked back President Donald Trump’s enthusiasm for warmer relations with Russia following a bilateral summit last week with his counterpart Vladimir Putin, saying that the country will remain a foe.
“We don’t trust Russia, we don’t trust Putin, we never will,” Haley told Christian Broadcasting Network News in an interview published Monday. “They’re never going to be our friend. That’s just a fact.”
Yet she did say that meetings with foreign leaders like Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “have to happen” in order to “get to the other side.”
Face-to-face meetings with countries that the U.S. has historically been on shaky ground with are Trump’s preferred way of handling international affairs, she continued. “He feels like he can get more out of them if he goes one-on-one like that. It’s his style. You’re going to see their next meetings are going to have people in them, the working groups are going to come together, all of those things. But he’s always thought just to create that genuine reality of the two of them talking, he feels like he needs to do it face-to-face.”
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle condemned Trump for asserting that he believed Putin over his own intelligence officials about Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election during the news conference with Putin in Helsinki.
He’s since tried to walk back his own comments and defended his decision to meet with Putin. “I gave up NOTHING, we merely talked about future benefits for both countries,” he tweeted Monday.