GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump got a shout out from Russian President Vladimir Putin at his annual press conference.
And The Donald responded with similarly kind words for the Russian ruler.
The question of Trump came during Putin’s traditional year-end presser, which ran for more than three hours and was carried across Russian TV and radio.
Trump has differed from the GOP pack by boasting that he’d likely get along with Putin “very well,” with other candidates say they’d take a tough stand with the Iran-allied ruler whose enemies tend to wind up mysteriously dead and who has invaded Ukraine and Georgia.
“He is a very flamboyant man, very talented, no doubt about that,” Putin said today of Trump. “He is the absolute leader of the presidential race, as we see it today. He says that he wants to move to another level of relations, to a deeper level of relations with Russia. How can we not welcome that? Of course we welcome it.”
On Trump’s proposal for a ban on Muslim immigration, which has drawn condemnation from world leaders including British Prime Minister David Cameron and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Putin said “issues of internal politics – the rhetoric he uses for propping up his popularity” are of no concern to Russia.
“It’s not our business to assess his work in this respect,” Putin added.
Trump said in response that “it is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond.”
“I have always felt that Russia and the United States should be able to work well with each other towards defeating terrorism and world peace, not to mention trade and all of the other benefits derived from mutual respect,” Trump added.
The Pentagon says Russia is not going after ISIS targets in Syria, but instead is hitting at targets beneficial to dictator Bashar al-Assad, Hezbollah and Iran.
Putin said Thursday that he wants a political solution in Syria because “there is no other way to resolve the situation.”
“This will have to be done in any case sooner or later, and better sooner than later because there will be fewer casualties and losses, and there will be fewer threats, including to Europe and to the United States as well,” Putin said. “Look, 14 people were killed in the United States − ISIS has made its way into the US. US law enforcement has acknowledged that it was a terrorist attack committed by ISIS, so it is a threat to everyone. And the sooner we do it, resolve this, the better.”