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President Barack Obama on Thursday denied having an “icy” relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and said the leader’s tough guy demeanor is likely just part of his “shtick.” In an interview with NBC’s Bob Costas set to air Friday, Obama said, “I wouldn’t call it icy. The truth of the matter is that when we are in meetings there are a lot of exchanges, there’s a surprising amount of humor, and a lot of give and take.” Putin, Obama said, understands the importance of working with the U.S. on areas of mutual concern. Obama added that Putin’s public efforts to come off as a hard-nosed negotiator are likely “part of his shtick back home politically as wanting to look like the tough guy.”

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