Putin wants his spies to work closer with US intelligence agencies

President Vladimir Putin says he wants to work towards “restoring dialogue” between Russian and US intelligence agencies.

“It’s absolutely clear that in the area of counterterrorism all relevant governments and international groups should work together,” he said.

“It’s in everyone’s interest to resume dialogue between the intelligence agencies of the United States and other members of NATO.”

At the same time he complained that NATO “is constantly provoking us and trying to draw us into confrontation”.

And he said last year the activities of more than 400 foreign special agents had been stopped.

US defence secretary James Mattis says there is “very little doubt” that Russia has interfered or attempted to interfere in a number of elections.

But in November President Donald Trump praised his Russian counterpart for being “very smart” for not engaging in a tit-for-tat row with the US after the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats accused of spying.

And both Mr Putin and Mr Trump have played down a dossier compiled by a former MI6 agent that emerged in January, shortly before he was due to enter the White House.

In the document, former British spy Christopher Steele alleged that the Kremlin colluded with Mr Trump’s presidential campaign and that the Russian security services had material that could be used to blackmail him.

Mr Trump has an uneasy relationship with his own intelligence services after accusing them of allowing the release of what he called “false information”.

Rather than blame Moscow, Mr Trump has directed his anger at those doing the leaking.

“The spotlight has finally been put on the low-life leakers! They will be caught!,” he tweeted.

Russia’s defence minister has warned Washington not to try to negotiate with Moscow “from a position of strength” ahead of the first meeting between their military chiefs since Mr Trump took office.

“We are ready to restore co-operation with the Pentagon,” Sergei Shoigu said in a statement.

“But attempts to build a dialogue from a position of strength in relation to Russia have no prospects.”

Mr Shoigu was responding to a comment to NATO by Mr Mattis when he said Washington wanted to make sure its diplomats had the upper hand in any talks with Russia.

Meanwhile, Chancellor Angela Merkel has told a parliamentary committee examining alleged US surveillance in Germany that “spying among friends” is unacceptable.

[Source:- skynews]