As governments in the Middle East denounced President Trump’s ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, at least one world leader was enjoying warmer relations with The Donald: his old pal, Vladimir Putin. The Russian president and Trump spoke on the phone today in their first conversation since the inauguration. A Kremlin translation of the call—which “took place in a positive and business-like tone”—said it focused on stabilizing U.S.-Russian relations, building greater cooperation in Syria, and strengthening trade ties.Not mentioned in the official recap: whether the restoration of those ‘trade ties’ would involve repealing U.S. sanctions, instituted after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Earlier this week, Trump noted he was considering whether to lift the sanctions, even as his administration has come under fire for alleged Russian interference on his behalf in U.S. elections.Meanwhile, the phone call gave an early indicator of Trump’s probable approach to Syria, where Russia has propped up the besieged government of Bashar al-Assad. The civil war against Assad’s brutal regime has killed more than 400,000and created 13.5 million refugees—refugees who are now barred from entering the United States under President Trump.
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