Trump offers Putin help for Arctic threat
US President Donald Trump has offered his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin help in putting out vast wildfires raging in Siberia, a move that Mr Putin took as a sign that battered ties can be restored, the Kremlin says.
The Kremlin said the two leaders had spoken by phone at Washington's initiative, hours after Mr Putin ordered the Russian army to help firefighters battle the wildfires.
The offer came as satellite images from NASA and the European Space Agency paint a sobering picture of wildfires burning across Siberia.
The fires have spread to around 3 million hectares of mostly remote forest, an area almost the size of Belgium, according to the Federal Forestry Agency, wafting smoke across Siberia and prompting several regions to declare states of emergency.
Wildfires have also raged in Greenland and Alaska, fuelled by record-breaking temperatures, lightning and strong winds.
"The US president offered Russia co-operation in fighting forest fires in Siberia," the Kremlin statement said.
"President Putin expressed his sincere gratitude for such an attentive attitude and for the offer of help and support."
Mr Putin told Mr Trump that Moscow would take him up on his offer if necessary, the Kremlin said, adding: "The Russian president took this step from the US president as a sign that in the future we can restore full-scale ties between our two countries."
Russia has long been keen to try to start rebuilding battered US-Russia relations, which remain strained by everything from Syria to Ukraine and allegations of Russian interference in US politics, which Moscow denies.
#Siberia in flames!— Khodorkovsky Center (@mbk_center) July 31, 2019
⚡️3,2 million hectares of forest fires spark potential disaster for the Arctic
and the world's climate while accelerating global warming, but has also an imminent grave impact on health of the local population of the vast affected area.#SaveSiberiaForesْts pic.twitter.com/OM1zFXbAJu
The two leaders agreed to continue their contacts over the phone and in face-to-face meetings, the Kremlin said.
The White House confirmed the two men had spoken by phone and said they had discussed the wildfires as well as trade between their two nations.