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Putin: ‘Trump’s first statements give us hope’
Two martyoshka dolls, depicting Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, sit side by side in a souvenir store in Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent Donald Trump a telegram congratulating the Republican businessman on his stunning triumph over Hillary Clinton.

“Trump’s first statements give us hope that steps towards improving relations between the USA and Russia are possible,” Putin said via spokesman Dmitry Peskov, according to the Associated Press.

“The U.S. election result does not mean that all contentious issues in relations between Moscow and Washington will be resolved,” he added. “The main thing is the intention to resolve them through dialogue.”

Trump’s opponents have criticized him for lavishing praise on the Russian leader and questioned his financial ties to Russia. Some critics have accused Trump of being “Putin’s puppet.”

“I don’t know Putin,” Trump said during the final presidential debate last month. “He said nice things about me. If we got along well, that would be good.”

“If Russia and the United States got along well and went after ISIS, that would be good,” he added.

2016 election aftermath: Trump wins, Clinton concedes

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