MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke to Elton John and invited him to a meeting after the British singer fell victim to a prank phone caller who pretended to be the Kremlin leader.

Putin asked John on Thursday not to be offended by the hoax call and said he’s ready to meet him to discuss any subject, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow. The joke was carried out by “harmless people, although this of course does not justify their prank,” he said, according to the Interfax news service.

John was caught out last week by two Russian comedians who tricked him into believing that Peskov had called from the Kremlin and connected him to Putin after the singer said he’d like to discuss Russia’s “ridiculous” stance on gay rights with the president. They aired a recording of the 11-minute conversation on Russian TV.

The hoax emerged after the Kremlin denied any conversation had taken place when John thanked Putin on his Instagram page for “reaching out” to him, saying he looked forward to “meeting with you face-to-face to discuss LGBT equality in Russia.”

John said on Instagram after the incident that he was “happy to be pranked” if it raised the issue of homophobia and that “my offer to talk to President Putin about LGBT rights still stands.”

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