Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump announces his nomination of Neil Gorsuch to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Reuters/Carlos Barria

US President Donald Trump has reiterated he has nothing but respect for Vladimir Putin despite some people referring to him as a “killer.” He believes that it would be better if the United States could get along with Russia and the two countries would cooperate with each other to defeat Islamic terrorism, which Trump has described as a major fight.

The two leaders of their respective countries had a phone conversation last month and a summit meeting has been mooted by both administrations. Further details of their tête-à-tête were not publicly released.

Trump’s remarks came after host Bill O’Reilly asked him if he respects Putin. When O’Reilly reminded Trump that Putin is a killer, the former was quick to defend the other leader, saying that there are other killers to be aware of. “We’ve got a lot of killers. What, do you think our country’s so innocent?,” Trump replied.

Although Trump has reiterated that he respects Putin, it does not necessarily mean that he could get along with the Russian president. The leader of the free world has set an expectation, saying it is very possible that he wouldn’t get along with him.

The US president went on to explain that he is one to respect other people, but getting along well with them does not automatically follow. Trump recognises the fact that Putin is the leader of his country.

Previously, Trump backed up Putin about issues of journalist killings. saying the Russian president was never proven guilty and there are no direct evidences that he has killed journalists. “It’s never been proven that he’s killed anybody, so you know you’re supposed to be innocent until proven guilty at least in our country he has not been proven that he’s killed reporters,” Trump told ABC News.

Based on data from the Committee to Protect Journalists, 36 reporters have been killed in Russia since 1992. Since 2000, the same year when Putin has taken office, 23 journalists have been murdered. One of the most popular cases of journalist killing was that of Anna Politkovskaya, who was shot dead just last year while scrutinising torture of detainees in Chechnya.

Some entertainers and politicians think Putin is a killer. Aside from O’Reilly, Arizona senator John McCain also describes the Russian president as a murderer as well as a thug. McCain is a critic of Trump and stern opponent of lifting sanctions on Russia.