WASHINGTON, June 16. /TASS/. US President Donald Trump is expected to hold a meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Europe in July, The Washington Post said, citing "a senior administration official and two diplomats familiar with his schedule."
"President Trump is expected to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin next month while he is in Europe for a NATO summit," the newspaper wrote. "In a nod to those plans, Trump told reporters on Friday that ‘it’s possible’ he would meet with Putin this summer," The Washington Post added. NATO is expected to hold a summit in Brussels on July 11-12.
According to the newspaper, Trump’s "interest in a meeting with Putin became public in March after the Kremlin disclosed that Trump extended an invitation in a phone call with the Russian leader. But US officials say Trump privately has been asking his aides for a bilateral meeting ever since he met with Putin in Vietnam in November on the sidelines of a multilateral economic summit." "After that meeting, the president said he wanted to invite Putin to the White House," a US official said as cited by The Washington Post. "We ignored it," the official added.
The newspaper also said that "at the time, top aides in the National Security Council opposed the idea of a meeting and said they didn’t view Trump’s interest in a summit as an order to set one up." "They decided: Let’s wait and see if he raises it again," said the official.
Resistance from aides
"The push for engagement with the Kremlin follows months of prodding by Trump, who has faced resistance from senior political aides and diplomats questioning the value of meeting with Putin and worry that the tete-a-tete could cast a shadow over the NATO summit in Brussels," The Washington Post went on to say.
"Senior officials at the State Department have acknowledged that a meeting between the two leaders could, in theory, help resolve long-standing differences on Ukraine, Syria, cybersecurity issues and interference in foreign elections. But some of those officials have said a summit between the two leaders is premature given the lack of progress on resolving minor issues, such as the return of Russian dachas on the East Coast, which were seized as punishment for Moscow’s interference in the election," the newspaper noted.
In late December 2016, the Obama administration introduced a new round of sanctions against some Russian companies, the Federal Security Service and the Main Intelligence Agency of Russia’s General Staff. Besides that, US authorities expelled 35 Russian diplomats and shut down two Russian compounds in New York and Maryland. Washington attributed these sanctions to cyber attacks against US political institutions, accusing Russia of being involved. However, Moscow fully rejected all allegations and refrained from giving a tit-for-tat response at the time.
No specific steps
Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Europe and Russia with the US National Security Council Richard Hooker told TASS on Wednesday that Washington and Moscow were considering the possibility to arrange a meeting between Trump and Putin.
On March 20, the two presidents held a telephone call and agreed to hand down instructions to start preparations for a Russia-US summit. Putin and Trump earlier held talks on the sidelines of the G20 summit held in Germany’s Hamburg in July 2017. They had another opportunity to hold negotiations during the APEC summit in Vietnam in November 2017 but managed only to exchange a couple of phrases.
On June 4, Russian Presidential Aide Yuri Ushakov said that no specific steps had been taken in order to prepare for a summit.
Meanwhile, the Russian president confirmed on June 10 that he was ready to meet with Trump as soon as the US was also ready for that.