Monday 20 May 2019

Trump and Putin agree to meet for first official summit between the two leaders

Donald Trump with Russian president Vladimir Putin (Evan Vucci/PA)
Donald Trump with Russian president Vladimir Putin (Evan Vucci/PA)

Roberta Rampton and Polina Ivanova

Moscow and Washington struck a deal on Wednesday to hold a summit soon between Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump, a move likely to worry some US allies and draw a fiery reaction from some of Trump's critics at home.

Kremlin foreign policy aide Yuri Ushakov, speaking after Mr Putin met US National Security Adviser John Bolton in the Kremlin, said the summit would take place in a mutually convenient third country and that several more weeks were needed to prepare for it.

"This meeting has been planned for a long time," Mr Ushakov told reporters. "It has enormous importance for Russia and America, but it (also) has huge importance for the whole international situation. I think it will be the main international event of the summer."

Such a summit is likely to irritate US allies who want to isolate Mr Putin, such as Britain, or who are concerned about President Trump's attitude towards Russia. It is also likely to go down badly among foreign and domestic critics who question Mr Trump's commitment to NATO and fret over his desire to rebuild relations with Moscow even as Washington tightens sanctions.

Moscow and Washington will announce the time and place of the summit on Thursday.

Donald Trump said on Wednesday his meeting with Mr Putin could take place, possibly in Helsinki, after the July 11-12 NATO summit in Brussels.

Mr Trump told reporters he will discuss the war in Syria and the situation in Ukraine with his Russian counterpart. Mr Trump, who has said he wants better relations with Russia, last met Mr Putin in November in Vietnam on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific summit.

Mr Ushakov, who said the Kremlin was pleased with how Mr Bolton's visit had gone, said Mr Putin and Mr Trump were likely to talk for several hours when they met and spoke of a possible joint declaration on improving U.S.-Russia relations and international security.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was likely to meet his U.S. counterpart Mike Pompeo beforehand, he added.


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