President-elect Donald Trump, whose expressed admiration of Vladimir Putin has stirred controversy, released a letter Friday from the Russian leader in which Putin offers his “warmest” Christmas greetings and seeks to restore cooperation with the United States.

“A very nice letter from Vladimir Putin; his thoughts are so correct,” Trump said in a statement regarding the Dec. 15 letter. “I hope both sides are able to live up to these thoughts, and we do not have to travel an alternate path.”

In the letter, Putin says that he hopes that, after Trump is sworn in, the two can act “in a constructive and pragmatic manner” and “take real steps to restore the framework of bilateral cooperation in different areas as well as bring our level of collaboration on the international scene to a qualitatively new level.

“Please accept my sincere wishes to you and your family of sound health, happiness, well-being, success and all the best,” the letter concludes.

Trump in the past has expressed admiration for Putin’s leadership qualities. And while U.S. intelligence officials have blamed the Russian leader for meddling in this year’s presidential election, Trump has suggested that other entities could be responsible for the hacked Democratic emails at the center of the controversy.

On Sept. 7, during a town hall event hosted by MSNBC, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump claimed he would have “a good relationship” with Putin. (Adriana Usero/The Washington Post)

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