From Sky News
Vladimir Putin has described US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as an “unquestionably talented” man.
“He is a very outstanding man, unquestionably talented,” the Russian President told reporters after his annual news conference on Thursday.
“It’s not up to us to judge his virtue, that is up to US voters, but he is the absolute leader of the presidential race,” he added.
Mr Putin also described the property billionaire as a “very flamboyant man”.
He said Russia would seek cooperation with the United States no matter who is elected president next year.
“We are ready to work with any president chosen by the American people,” he said.
Mr Trump is still leading the national polls, with Texas senator Ted Cruz in second place in the race for the Republican candidacy.
But he has also been fiercely criticised for his controversial remarks and policy statements throughout his campaign.
Earlier this month, Mr Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”.
The White House slammed his remarks as “toxic and offensive”, while on Wednesday, British Prime Minister David Cameron condemned Mr Trump’s comments as “divisive, stupid and wrong”.
Mr Cameron indicated that he did not agree with a petition to ban Mr Trump from entering Britain, but did say: “I think if he came to our country he would unite us all against him.”
Mr Putin said what Mr Trump says to his supporters was of no concern to him.
“On domestic politics, his manner of speaking, what he employs to raise his popularity – that is none of Russia’s business,” he said.
“It’s not our concern to evaluate his work.
“He says that he wants a different level of relations, tighter and deeper relations with Russia, how can we not welcome that? Of course we welcome it,” he added.
Mr Trump this week said he believed he would get along with Mr Putin.
“I will get along – I think – with Putin, and I will get along with others, and we will have a much more stable – stable world,” he said.
“I would talk to him. I would get along with him.”