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09 July 2017

US President Donald Trump says discussed forming cyber security unit with Russia’s Vladimir Putin

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump disembark from Air Force One upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on Saturday. Picture: AFP

US PRESIDENT Donald Trump wants to form a cyber security unit to stop election hacking — except he wants to it with Russia, the main culprit according to his own security services.

Tweeting after his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday, Mr Trump said now was the time to work constructively with Moscow, pointing to a ceasefire deal in southwest Syria that came into effect on Sunday.

US President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany. Picture: Saul Loeb/AFP

US President Donald Trump and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany. Picture: Saul Loeb/AFPSource:AFP

“Putin & I discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded and safe,” he said following their talks at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.

The plan was immediately attacked by US politicians, many within Mr Trump’s own Republican party.

Appearing it on NBC’s Meet the Press, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham ridiculed it as “not the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard—but it’s pretty close”.

US Republican Senator Marco Rubio has attacked President Trump’s cyber security plan with Russia. Picture: Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP

US Republican Senator Marco Rubio has attacked President Trump’s cyber security plan with Russia. Picture: Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFPSource:AFP

Mr Graham told host Chuck Todd that Mr Trump was “hurting his presidency by not embracing the fact that Putin is a bad guy.”

Another Republican senator, Marco Rubio, also took issue with the idea, tweeting that the Russian leader “will never be a trusted ally or a reliable constructive partner.”

In the Sunday morning tweets Mr Trump said that “it is time to move forward in working constructively with Russia!” adding that he “strongly pressed” Mr Putin twice over Russian meddling in the 2016 election during their lengthy meeting.

He said Mr Putin “vehemently denied” the conclusions of US intelligence agencies. Mr Trump did not say whether he believed Mr Putin, tweeting that he’s “already given my opinion.”

In the same series of tweets Mr Trump pointed to a ceasefire in southern Syria brokered by the US and Russia as a sign of why it was important for the two countries to get along.

He wrote: “We negotiated a ceasefire in parts of Syria which will save lives. Now it is time to move forward in working constructively with Russia!”

President Trump arrives at the White House after attending the G20 Summit. Picture: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

President Trump arrives at the White House after attending the G20 Summit. Picture: Manuel Balce Ceneta/APSource:AP

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov first told reporters in Germany on Friday that Mr Trump had accepted Mr Putin’s assurances that Russia hadn’t meddled — an assertion Mr Putin repeated Saturday after the Group of 20 summit.

“He asked questions, I replied. It seemed to me that he was satisfied with the answers,” Mr Putin said.

US officials have not pushed back on that account, even when pressed directly. Speaking briefly with reporters aboard Air Force One on Saturday evening, both Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster punted when given the chance to correct the record.

“You know, we’re not going to make comments about what other people say,” said Mr Mnuchin.

“President Trump will be happy to make statements himself about that.”

US President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit in Hamburg. Picture: Evan Vucci/AP

US President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit in Hamburg. Picture: Evan Vucci/APSource:AP

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who participated in the meeting between the two leaders, had suggested on Friday that the two sides had, in effect, agreed to disagree on the meddling question so that they could move forward to address other pressing issues, like the civil war in Syria.

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