U.S. President Donald Trump, left, tosses a soccer ball to his wife first lady Melania Trump after Russian President Vladimir Putin presented it to him during a press conference after their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, Monday, July 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Soccer diplomacy: World Cup host Putin gives Trump a ball

July 16, 2018 - 12:47 pm
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HELSINKI (AP) — Riding high after hosting a successful World Cup, Russian President Vladimir Putin brought a special gift to his summit with U.S. President Donald Trump: a soccer ball.

After a journalist asked a question at their joint press conference Monday in Helsinki using soccer metaphors, Putin pulled out a red-and-white ball and tossed it at Trump, at the neighboring podium.

Trump said he'd give it to his 12-year-old son Barron, a soccer fan. Then the U.S. president tossed the ball to his wife Melania, sitting in the front row.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Putin critic, tweeted: "if it were me, I'd check the soccer ball for listening devices and never allow it in the White House."

Russia's organization of the monthlong World Cup, which ended Sunday, won wide praise.

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