Trump says he thinks he could have a good relationship with Putin

WASHINGTON, April 3 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump, standing alongside the leaders of three Baltic countries most concerned about the potential for aggression from Moscow, on Tuesday said he thought he could have a good relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump, at a news conference after meeting the presidents of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, told reporters "it's a real possibility that I could have a good relationship" with Putin, but acknowledged it was not a certainty.

"Getting along with Russia is a good thing," Trump said. "I think I could have a very good relationship with Russia and with President Putin, and if I did, that would be a great thing. And there's also a great possibility that that won't happen. Who knows?"

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Trump and Putin meet at APEC
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Trump and Putin meet at APEC
DA NANG, VIETNAM - NOVEMBER 11, 2017: Russia's president Vladimir Putin (L) and US president Donald Trump during a photo session of world leaders on the closing day of the 25th APEC Summit. Mikhail Metzel/TASS (Photo by Mikhail Metzel\TASS via Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (R) and Russia's President Vladimir Putin talk as they make their way to take the 'family photo' during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' summit in the central Vietnamese city of Danang on November 11, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SPUTNIK / Mikhail KLIMENTYEV (Photo credit should read MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/AFP/Getty Images)
DA NANG, VIETNAM - NOVEMBER 11, 2017: Russia's president Vladimir Putin (L front) and US president Donald Trump before a photo session of world leaders on the closing day of the 25th APEC Summit. Mikhail Metzel/TASS (Photo by Mikhail Metzel\TASS via Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (L) chats with Russia's President Vladimir Putin as they attend the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting, part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' summit in the central Vietnamese city of Danang on November 11, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SPUTNIK / Mikhail KLIMENTYEV (Photo credit should read MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (L) chats with Russia's President Vladimir Putin as they attend the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting, part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' summit in the central Vietnamese city of Danang on November 11, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SPUTNIK / Mikhail KLIMENTYEV (Photo credit should read MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/AFP/Getty Images)
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) and US President Donald Trump talk as they attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' summit in the central Vietnamese city of Danang on November 11, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SPUTNIK / Mikhail KLIMENTYEV (Photo credit should read MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (R) and Russia's President Vladimir Putin talk as they make their way to take the 'family photo' during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' summit in the central Vietnamese city of Danang on November 11, 2017. World leaders and senior business figures are gathering in the Vietnamese city of Danang this week for the annual 21-member APEC summit. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / JORGE SILVA (Photo credit should read JORGE SILVA/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (R) and Russia's President Vladimir Putin talk as the make their way to take the 'family photo' during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' summit in the central Vietnamese city of Danang on November 11, 2017. World leaders and senior business figures are gathering in the Vietnamese city of Danang this week for the annual 21-member APEC summit. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / JORGE SILVA (Photo credit should read JORGE SILVA/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (R) and Russia's President Vladimir Putin walk together to take part in the 'family photo' during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' summit in the central Vietnamese city of Danang on November 11, 2017. World leaders and senior business figures are gathering in the Vietnamese city of Danang this week for the annual 21-member APEC summit. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / JORGE SILVA (Photo credit should read JORGE SILVA/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (R) and Russia's President Vladimir Putin talk as they make their way to take the 'family photo' during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' summit in the central Vietnamese city of Danang on November 11, 2017. World leaders and senior business figures are gathering in the Vietnamese city of Danang this week for the annual 21-member APEC summit. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / JORGE SILVA (Photo credit should read JORGE SILVA/AFP/Getty Images)
DA NANG, VIETNAM - NOVEMBER 11, 2017: Russia's president Vladimir Putin (CL front) and US president Donald Trump (CR front) before a photo session of world leaders on the closing day of the 25th APEC Summit. Mikhail Metzel/TASS (Photo by Mikhail Metzel\TASS via Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin talk before a session of the APEC summit in Danang, Vietnam November 11, 2017. Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, U.S. President Donald Trump, Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quangand and Chinese President Xi Jinping arrive for the family photo session at the APEC Summit in Danang, Vietnam November 11, 2017. Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin talk during a break in a session of the APEC summit in Danang, Vietnam November 11, 2017. Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
(Front L to R) Vietnam's President Tran Dai Quang, Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, (back L to R) Russia's President Vladimir Putin, US President Donald Trump and Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha pose during the 'family photo' during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' summit in the central Vietnamese city of Danang on November 11, 2017. World leaders and senior business figures are gathering in the Vietnamese city of Danang this week for the annual 21-member APEC summit. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / JORGE SILVA (Photo credit should read JORGE SILVA/AFP/Getty Images)
(Front L to R) China's President Xi Jinping, Vietnam's President Tran Dai Quang, Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, (back L to R) Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Russia's President Vladimir Putin, US President Donald Trump, and Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha pose during the 'family photo' during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' summit in the central Vietnamese city of Danang on November 11, 2017. World leaders and senior business figures are gathering in the Vietnamese city of Danang this week for the annual 21-member APEC summit. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / JORGE SILVA (Photo credit should read JORGE SILVA/AFP/Getty Images)
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Trump reiterated his belief that "nobody has been tougher on Russia than I have," noting he has pushed for increased defense spending to bolster the U.S. military and has aggressively pushed energy production, enabling the United States to become an exporter in competition with Russia.

"We're essentially now energy-independent. We're an exporter of energy. That is not a positive for Russia," Trump told reporters.

"We are going to have a military stronger than we've ever had before by far," he added. "That's not exactly a great thing for Russia."

Trump also said he had prodded NATO members to meet their defense spending commitments, generating "many billions of dollars" in additional military spending by NATO allies.

He praised the three Baltic presidents for their countries' commitment to meeting the NATO goal of spending 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense this year. Estonia reached that goal in 2017, but Latvia and Lithuania were just shy of the mark at 1.75 percent and 1.73 percent, respectively, according to NATO figures issued last month.

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President Trump Hosts US-Baltic Centennial Summit
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President Trump Hosts US-Baltic Centennial Summit
U.S. President Donald Trump, right, speaks as Raimonds Vejonis, Latvia's president, left, Kersti Kaljulaid, Estonia's president, second left, and Dalia Grybauskaite, Lithuania's president, listen during a press conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, April 3, 2018. Trump says the U.S. will expand exports of LNG to Baltic region and will hold a summit with the Baltic presidents of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia to discuss ways to expand economic opportunities. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump listens during a press conference with Baltic leaders in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, April 3, 2018. Trump says the U.S. will expand exports of LNG to Baltic region and will hold a summit with the Baltic presidents of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia to discuss ways to expand economic opportunities. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Kersti Kaljulaid, Estonia's president, right, talks to Raimonds Vejonis, Latvia's president, during a press conference with U.S. President Donald Trump, not pictured, and other Baltic leaders in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, April 3, 2018. Trump says the U.S. will expand exports of LNG to Baltic region and will hold a summit with the Baltic presidents of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia to discuss ways to expand economic opportunities. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
National security adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster attends a press conference between President Donald trump and three Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) in the East Room of the White House on April 3, 2018 in Washington, DC. This year, the three Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) celebrate their 100th year of independence. / AFP PHOTO / Olivier Douliery (Photo credit should read OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference with Baltic leaders in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, April 3, 2018. Trump says the U.S. will expand exports of LNG to Baltic region and will hold a summit with the Baltic presidents of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia to discuss ways to expand economic opportunities. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Dalia Grybauskaite, Lithuania's president, left, speaks as U.S. President Donald Trump, listens during a press conference with Baltic leaders in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, April 3, 2018. Trump says the U.S. will expand exports of LNG to Baltic region and will hold a summit with the Baltic presidents of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia to discuss ways to expand economic opportunities. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 03: (L-R) Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis, Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite and U.S. President Donald Trump, hold a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House April 3, 2018 in Washington, DC. Marking their 100th anniversary of their post-World War I independence from Russia, the three Baltic heads of state participated in the United States-Baltic Summit at the White House. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Kersti Kaljulaid, Estonia's president, speaks during a press conference with U.S. President Donald Trump, not pictured, and other Baltic leaders in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, April 3, 2018. Trump says the U.S. will expand exports of LNG to Baltic region and will hold a summit with the Baltic presidents of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia to discuss ways to expand economic opportunities. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump listens during a press conference with Baltic leaders in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, April 3, 2018. Trump says the U.S. will expand exports of LNG to Baltic region and will hold a summit with the Baltic presidents of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia to discuss ways to expand economic opportunities. Photographer: Chris Kleponis/Pool via Bloomberg
Raimonds Vejonis, Latvia's president, speaks during a press conference with U.S. President Donald Trump, not pictured, and other Baltic leaders in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, April 3, 2018. Trump says the U.S. will expand exports of LNG to Baltic region and will hold a summit with the Baltic presidents of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia to discuss ways to expand economic opportunities. Photographer: Chris Kleponis/Pool via Bloomberg
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 03: White House Chief of Staff John Kelly attends a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House April 3, 2018 in Washington, DC. Marking their 100th anniversary of their post-World War I independence from Russia, Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis, Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid and Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite participated in the United States-Baltic Summit with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 03: (L-R) Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite and U.S. President Donald Trump participate in a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House April 3, 2018 in Washington, DC. Marking their 100th anniversary of their post-World War I independence from Russia, the three Baltic heads of state participated in the United States-Baltic Summit at the White House. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 03: (L-R) Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite and U.S. President Donald Trump participate in a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House April 3, 2018 in Washington, DC. Marking their 100th anniversary of their post-World War I independence from Russia, the three Baltic heads of state participated in the United States-Baltic Summit at the White House. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump, left, exits after a press conference with Baltic leaders in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, April 3, 2018. Trump says the U.S. will expand exports of LNG to Baltic region and will hold a summit with the Baltic presidents of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia to discuss ways to expand economic opportunities. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
US President Donald Trump looks on during a joint press conference with President Raimonds Vejonis of Latvia, President Kersti Kaljulaid of Estonia and President Dalia Grybauskaite of Lithuania in the East Room of the White House on April 3, 2018 in Washington, DC. This year, the three Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) celebrate their 100th year of independence. / AFP PHOTO / Olivier Douliery (Photo credit should read OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP/Getty Images)
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The Baltics leaders expressed confidence in Trump's security commitments.

The United States plans to provide $100 million for large-caliber ammunition for the Baltics and $70 million for training and equipment, the White House said. It also is working to build the region's defense and energy infrastructure.

Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid said the presidents had discussed the region's security needs and what was required "to make sure that our deterrence is believable to everybody who might want to question it."

"We are an ally situation together. And we find the solutions together, which will work for us all together, because we are in it all together," Kaljulaid added.

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Writing by David Alexander; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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