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Putin Walks Back Trump Praise, Says U.S. Is the Only Superpower

June 18, 2016, 5:45 PM UTC
Russian President Vladimir Putin holds press conference
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - DECEMBER 17: Russian President Vladimir Putin answers the questions of the press members during an annual evaluation session in Moscow, Russia, on December 17, 2015. (Photo by Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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Russian President Vladimir Putin walked back some of his previous praise for U.S. presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump on Friday at a forum, where he also called the United States the world’s only superpower.

“America is a great power—today probably the only superpower. We accept that,” Putin said in Russian at the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg, according to a translation by Reuters. “We want to and are ready to work with the United States.”

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Asked about previous comments in which he complimented Trump, Putin said they were misinterpreted, saying he had only ever called Trump “flamboyant,” Reuters reported.

“He is, isn’t he?” Putin said Friday, smiling and prompting applause from the audience. “I did not give any other assessment of him.”

Putin made the comments in Russian during an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria. The full interview will air Sunday on the network.

CNN translated Putin’s remarks as: “I only said he was a bright person. Isn’t he bright?”

Cologne “Inspired by” Putin Is Now for Sale

In December, Putin called Trump “flamboyant,” “talented,” and an “absolute leader in the presidential race.” Trump has returned the compliments, saying he would get along “very well” with Putin.

Putin also said Friday that he welcomes Trump’s plan to restore U.S.-Russia relations. While he said he had not worked with presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton personally, he said he appreciated “warm relations” he had with her husband, former president Bill Clinton, according to Reuters.

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