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Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin pledge cooperation to 'tackle terrorism'

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump have said they want their nations to cooperate to defeat terrorists, including the Islamic State group.

In an eagerly awaited phone call, the first between the pair since Mr Trump's inauguration, the two men stressed the importance of restoring economic ties between the two countries and of stabilising relations, both the Kremlin and the White House said.

"The positive call was a significant start to improving the relationship between the United States and Russia that is in need of repair," the White House said in a brief statement about the hour-long call.

"Both President Trump and President Putin are hopeful that after today's call the two sides can move quickly to tackle terrorism and other important issues of mutual concern."

US-Russia relations hit a post-Cold War low under Barack Obama, and Mr Trump has made clear he wants a rapprochement with Moscow if he can get along with Mr Putin.

"Both sides demonstrated a mood for active, joint work on stabilising and developing Russian-American cooperation," the Kremlin said in a statement, saying the two leaders had agreed to work on finding a possible time and place for a meeting.

There was no mention in either statement that the possibility of Mr Trump easing sanctions on Moscow imposed over the Ukraine conflict had been mentioned, a subject widely expected to be raised.

Mr Trump's stance on Russia has been under intense scrutiny from critics who say he was elected with help from Russian intelligence, an allegation he denies.

His detractors have also accused him of being too eager to make an ally of Mr Putin.

For Mr Putin, an easing of Western sanctions would be a major coup ahead of next year's presidential election as it would help the economy recover.

Germany and US agree to cooperate on combating terrorism

Mr Trump also spoke to German Chancellor Angela Merkel by phone, agreeing on the "fundamental importance" of the NATO alliance.

Earlier in January Mr Trump suggested that NATO was "obsolete" and that the US might not come to the aid of countries that do not meet targets for their own defence spending.

Mr Trump and Ms Merkel spoke about issues including the Middle East, North Africa, their ties to Russia and the conflict in eastern Ukraine, a German Government spokesperson said, in a statement approved by both countries.

The spokesperson said Ms Merkel and Mr Trump agreed to expand their cooperation in combating terrorism and militancy.

Mr Trump accepted Ms Merkel's invitation to attend a summit of G20 industrialised countries in Hamburg in July, and said he looked forward to welcoming Ms Merkel to Washington soon.