Russian President Vladimir Putin has given a glowing review of one of the most controversial candidates for the U.S. presidency, telling Russian media that Donald Trump was an absolute leader in the race.
Putin made the comments Thursday to Russian news agency Interfax after taking reporter questions for three hours as part of his annual press conference in Moscow.
"After the conference, Putin said that Donald Trump is a very bright and talented person and the absolute leader of the presidential race," Interfax tweeted in Russian.
Putin's remarks come after Trump's flattering words for the Russian president in November, when the tycoon cited high ratings of a September episode of CBS' "60 Minutes" which featured both Trump and Putin.
"I believe we will have a very good relationship with Russia. I believe that I will have a very good relationship with Putin," Trump said.
On Thursday, Putin added that Russia would welcome Donald Trump's willingness to have deeper relations with the country, according to Interfax, and said it wasn't his business to assess how Trump was boosting his popularity in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.