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White House expects Trump-Putin meeting on sidelines of G20 summit

Earlier in the day, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stopped short of confirming that the meeting will take place

WASHINGTON, June 30. /TASS/. White House officials at a briefing on Thursday named Russian President Vladimir Putin among the list of G20 leaders, who US President Donald Trump is expected to meet in Germany’s Hamburg next week.

Earlier in the day, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stopped short of confirming that the meeting will take place, saying only that the two presidents will take part in the G20 summit on July 7-8 and will be able to meet there. "However, if we are talking about a separate meeting, no preparations are underway for such a meeting," he said.

However, National Security Advisor Gen. Herbert McMaster told reporters that Trump was expected to meet with "many world leaders, including Chancellor (Angela) Merkel of Germany, the host of the G20, Prime Minister (Theresa) May of the United Kingdom, Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe of Japan, President Moon (Jae-in) of South Korea, President (Xi) Jinping of China, President (Vladimir) Putin of Russia."

When asked about the agenda of the projected Putin-Trump meeting, Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn said: "Well, there's no specific agenda. It's really going to be whatever the President wants to talk about," adding that that the G20 summit events were still "a week away."

"We are still finalizing schedules. So agendas for meetings have not been set up at this point," he said.

Answering a question from a TASS correspondent about the format of the upcoming Putin-Trump talks, the White House official replied that the schedule was still being formalized.

"In the G20 meetings as a whole, the world leaders are gathered. We will have pull-asides, we'll have bilaterals," he said. "We would imagine that the countries that H.R. talked about, we would be planning on bilateral meetings. But they're during the G20 meetings. So these are not long, long meetings. These are bilateral pull-asides during the G20."

National Security Advisor Gen. Herbert McMaster, who was also present at the briefing, told reporters that his administration officials were tasked with preparations in three areas.

"The President has asked us to work together across all departments and agencies to do, really, three things: to confront Russia’s destabilizing behavior whether it’s cyber threats, whether it’s political subversion here in Europe and elsewhere in the Balkans now," the official said.

"The second is to deter Russia, right? Because the worse thing nobody wants a major power war, right? And so what is it that we have to put in place to be able to deter conflict," he added.

"And then the third thing is to foster areas of cooperation. What are the areas that we can identify in which we can work together with Russia, which is clearly in both of our interests?" McMaster went on.

According to the adviser "there are a lot of problems in the world that fall into that category," including the North Korean nuclear issue and the fight against transnational terrorist organizations. The civil war in Syria was also mentioned, including issues related to de-escalation, defeating Islamic State (terrorist group, outlawed in Russia), and humanitarian efforts.

"And so these are areas of discussion, again being led extremely well by Secretary of State Tillerson, and that will continue to be the focus of our Russia policy and strategy," he said.