US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin have issued a rare joint statement commemorating a 1945 World War II link-up of US and Soviet troops on their way to defeat Nazi Germany as an example of how their countries can co-operate.
The statement by Trump and Putin comes amid deep strains in US-Russian ties over a raft of issues from arms control, the Syrian conflict and Russia's intervention in Ukraine to US charges that Russian authorities have spread disinformation about the coronavirus and interfered in US election campaigns.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the decision to issue the statement sparked debate within the Trump administration, with some officials worried it could undercut stern US messages to Moscow.
The joint statement marked the anniversary of the April 25, 1945 meeting on a bridge over the Elbe River in Germany of Soviet soldiers advancing from the east and US troops moving from the west.
"This event heralded the decisive defeat of the Nazi regime," the statement said.
"The 'Spirit of the Elbe' is an example of how our countries can put aside differences, build trust and co-operate in pursuit of a greater cause."
The WSJ said the last joint statement marking the Elbe River bridge link-up was issued in 2010, when then-president Barack Obama's administration was seeking improved relations with officials in Moscow.
Trump had hoped to travel to Moscow to mark the anniversary.
He has been complimentary of Putin, promoted co-operation with Moscow, and said he believed the Russian leader's denials of Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.
Senior administration officials and lawmakers, in contrast, have been fiercely critical of Russia, with relations between the nuclear-armed countries at their lowest point since the end of the Cold War.
Australian Associated Press
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