WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for slashing the number of U.S. diplomatic staff in Russia, "because now we have a smaller payroll."
"I want to thank him because we’re trying to cut down our payroll and as far as I’m concerned I’m very thankful that he let go of a large number of people," Trump told reporters. "There's no real reason for them to go back."
It was unclear whether Trump was joking.
Putin, reacting to new sanctions imposed by the U.S. Congress, on July 30 ordered Washington to cut 755 of its 1,200 embassy and consulate staff by September. Many of those affected are likely to be local Russian staffers.
(Reporting by Warren Strobel and Jonathan Landay; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)