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The Latest: France says no trace of Russian hacking Macron

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at a meeting with heads of international news agencies at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg, Russia, Thursday, June 1, 2017. At right is CEO of German news agency DPA Peter Kropsch. (Sergei Savostyanov/TASS News Agency Pool Photo via AP)

ST.PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — The Latest on President Vladimir Putin’s comments Thursday (all times local):

5:30 p.m.

The head of the French government’s cyber security agency, which investigated leaks from President Emmanuel Macron’s election campaign, says they found no trace of a notorious Russian hacking group behind the attack.

In an interview in his office Thursday with The Associated Press, Guillaume Poupard said the Macron campaign hack “was so generic and simple that it could have been practically anyone.”

He said they found no trace that the Russian hacking group known as APT28, blamed for other attacks including on the U.S. presidential campaign, was responsible.

Poupard is director general of the government cyber-defense agency known in France by its acronym, ANSSI. Its experts were immediately dispatched when documents stolen from the Macron campaign leaked online on May 5 in the closing hours of the presidential race.

Poupard says the attack’s simplicity “means that we can imagine that it was a person who did this alone. They could be in any country.”


4:30 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has hailed President Donald Trump as a straightforward person with a fresh vision.

Speaking at Thursday’s meeting with senior editors of the world’s leading news agencies, Putin said Russia had been encouraged by Trump’s campaign statements in which he lamented Russia-U.S. ties being at a historical low and promised to improve them.

Moscow’s hopes for a rapprochement with the U.S. have been dashed by congressional and FBI investigations into Trump campaign ties with Russia, but Putin emphasized that Moscow still hopes to forge a constructive dialogue with the Trump administration.

He praised Trump as “a straightforward person, a frank person.” Putin added that while some see Trump’s lack of political experience as a disadvantage, he sees it as beneficial because “he has a fresh set of eyes.”


3:45 p.m.

President Vladimir Putin has expressed regret that anti-Russian sentiments in the U.S. have prevented cooperation on fighting terrorism.

Meeting with international journalists on Thursday, Putin said “there are certain dimensions we can pursue more actively in fighting terror” — but “Russo-phobic hysteria” in the U.S. has made such cooperation all but impossible.

Asked if he could offer any advice to Trump, Putin said it would be “counterproductive” to give advice to a political counterpart and added that “a person like President Trump doesn’t need any advice, especially if it comes to political issues.”

He concluded by saying that “my wish is to forge a constructive dialogue underpinned by national interests,” and “I believe it’s possible with the current U.S. president.”


3 p.m.

President Vladimir Putin says Moscow will wait until current anti-Russian sentiments in the U.S. abate before trying to forge ties with President Donald Trump.

Speaking at Thursday’s meeting with senior editors of leading international news agencies, Putin said the current atmosphere “makes it somewhat inconvenient to work with one another or even to talk, but some day this will have to stop.”

The Kremlin’s aspirations for better ties with Washington have withered amid Congressional and FBI investigations into Trump campaign ties with Russia.

Putin said the “Russo-phobic hysteria” in the U.S. is aimed “against the current president of the U.S. to prevent him from working normally,” but predicted “this will end, sooner or later.” He added that “we are patient, we know how to wait and we will wait.”


1:35 p.m.

President Vladimir Putin says that Russia’s military deployments on a group of Pacific islands also claimed by Japan have been caused by concerns about the U.S. military buildup in the region.

The four islands, called the Northern Territories in Japan and the southern Kurils in Russia, were seized by the former Soviet Union at the end of the World War II, preventing the two countries from signing a peace treaty.

Speaking at a meeting with senior editors of international news agencies Thursday, Putin said the U.S. will likely continue to build up its missile shield in the region even if North Korea agrees to curb its nuclear and missile programs.


1:10 p.m.

President Vladimir Putin has warned that attempts to contain Russia won’t succeed.

Without naming any particular country, Putin said that Russia has faced attempts to hurt its legitimate interests.

Russia’s relations with the West have been at post-Cold War lows over the Ukrainian crisis. The U.S. and the EU have slapped Moscow with sanctions over its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and support for pro-Russian insurgency in eastern Ukraine.

Speaking at a meeting with senior editors of leading international news agencies Thursday, Putin said that economic restrictions against Russia have had “zero effect.”

He predicted that the current strain in relations will ease, because “it’s counterproductive and harmful.”


1 p.m.

President Vladimir Putin says the Russian state has never been involved in hacking.

Speaking at a meeting with senior editors of leading international news agencies Thursday, Putin said that some individual “patriotic” hackers could mount some attacks amid the current cold spell in Russia’s relations with the West.

But he categorically insisted that “we don’t engage in that at the state level.”

Putin also said that “no hackers can influence election campaigns in any country of Europe, Asia or America.”

U.S. intelligence agencies have accused Russia of hacking into Democratic Party emails, helping President Donald Trump’s election victory.

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