Boris Johnson 'not worried' about Donald Trump's friendship and admiration for Vladimir Putin

'I don't believe that in the end that it will significantly affect our relations with Washington' Foreign Secretary says

Samuel Osborne
Sunday 04 December 2016 10:38 GMT
Boris Johnson 'not worried' about Trump and Putin's relationship

Boris Johnson has said he is not worried about Donald Trump's admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Discussing Syria's brutal civil war, which has raged for nearly six years, the foreign secretary said he hoped Mr Putin and "the puppets he supports" should make a deal to remove President Bashar al-Assad from power.

He told the Andrew Marr Show that Britain "has been at the forefront of applying that ligature of sanctions" against Russia for its role in the civil war, where it has been supporting Mr Assad's ferocious assault on Aleppo.

Mr Johnson said he was not concerned about Mr Trump's friendship and admiration for Mr Putin when asked by Mr Marr.

"As I've said before, I think it's very important to be as positive as we possibly can about our relations with the administration-to-be," the foreign secretary said. "And actually so far the contacts have been extremely productive."

Pushed to answer further, Mr Johnson added: "The answer is no, because I don't believe that in the end that it will significantly affect our relations with Washington.

"What we will see is an understanding by the US administration that the scene there in the Middle East is very complex. You've got Iran, you've got Russia, you've got a congress in America that is, certainly on the Republican side, very sceptical to put it mildly about both Russia and Iran. And so I think there will be a confluence of thinking about that.

He added: "And don't forget the relationship between the UK and the US is the paramount political fact of the last hundred years."

Boris Johnson: Trump election 'a moment of opportunity' for Britain

Last week, Mr Putin struck an unusually conciliatory tone in his annual state of the nation address when he said he is "ready to cooperate" with the Trump administration.

“We don't want confrontation with anyone. We don't need it. We are not seeking and have never sought enemies. We need friends,” Mr Putin told Russia's political elite.

“We are ready to cooperate with the new US administration. We have a shared responsibility to ensure international security.”

Last Friday, Mr Johnson used his first major speech as Foreign Secretary to highlight how the UK can align with Mr Trump's incoming administration.

Mr Trump has suggested he could halt support for rebels in Syria and instead switch support to Mr Putin and the regime of Mr Assad.

Mr Johnson said: "Britain is prepared to be tough with Russia, but that does not mean that it is not also sensible to talk."

He added: "We cannot normalise relations with Russia or go back to ‘business as usual’.

"But as I have said time and again, Russia could win the acclaim of the world by halting its bombing campaign in Syria, delivering Assad to peace talks and abiding by the letter of the Minsk agreements in Ukraine and, once more, I will not shy away from delivering those messages face to face."

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