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Putin sends Trump friendly holiday message after turbulent year of U.S.-Russia relations

The Russian leader said on Sunday that Moscow was ready for dialogue on a "wide-ranging agenda," the Kremlin said in a statement.
Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin, in Moscow, on December 29, 2018.KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP - Getty Images

Russian leader Vladimir Putin sent a holiday letter to President Donald Trump in which he said Moscow is ready for dialogue on a wide-ranging agenda, the Kremlin said in a statement on Sunday.

Putin "stressed that Russia-U.S. relations are the most important factor behind ensuring strategic stability and international security," the statement added.

The Kremlin described the letter as a "Christmas and New Year greeting," one of many Putin sends each year.

A year ago to the day, Putin struck a similar note in his holiday message to Trump as he looked forward to a year of "cooperation" between the two countries.

The last 12 months have been marked by the intensifying scrutiny of special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian electoral interference, Trump's significant departures from recent U.S. foreign policy in the Mideast and Europe — two areas of renewed focus for Putin — and perhaps most notably the remarkable July summit and subsequent press conference between the two leaders in Helsinki.

The U.S. also expelled Russian diplomats and imposed a number of sanctions on Russian officials and entities following international backlash over the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal on British soil.

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In a separate letter to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Putin pledged continuation of aid to the Syrian government and people in the "fight against terrorism."

Putin also sent New Year greetings to world leaders including prime ministers Theresa May of Britain and Shinzo Abe of Japan, as well as Chinese President Xi Jinping.