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Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump are expected to talk by telephone this Saturday, the Kremlin said, their first conversation since Trump took office.

FILE PHOTO: Russia's President Vladimir Putin makes his annual New Year address to the nation in Moscow, Russia, December 31, 2016.   Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS/File Photo

FILE PHOTO: Russia’s President Vladimir Putin makes his annual New Year address to the nation in Moscow, Russia, December 31, 2016. Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS/File Photo

The phone call will be a crucial first step towards what the Kremlin and the White House hope will be a thaw in relations that were fraught under the previous U.S. administration.

Their conversation will also be subject to close scrutiny from Trump’s critics after U.S. intelligence agencies alleged that Russian security services tried to influence the U.S. presidential election in Trump’s favour.

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov, asked by Russian news agencies if the phone call could take place on Saturday, replied: “Yes,” but gave no further details.

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During the U.S. election campaign, Putin and Trump praised each other’s personal qualities and said they were hopeful they could reset relations.

Trump has raised the possibility of reviewing sanctions that were imposed on Russia after Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region in 2014 and helped separatist rebels fighting government forces in the east of Ukraine.

(Reporting by Polina Devitt; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

 

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