Voices from Russia

Monday, 18 June 2018

Media Reports Speculate that Trump May Meet with Putin in Europe in July

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The Washington Post cited “a senior administration official and two diplomats familiar with his schedule”:

We expect that President Trump shall meet Russian President Vladimir Putin next month while he’s in Europe for a NATO summit. On Friday, in a nod to those plans, Trump told reporters that “it’s possible” he’d meet with Putin this summer.

NATO is going to hold a summit in Brussels 11-12 July. The Post went on:

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. However, US officials say Trump privately asked his aides for a bilateral meeting ever since he met with Putin in Vietnam in November on the sidelines of a multilateral economic summit. A US official said, “After that meeting, the president said he wanted to invite Putin to the White House. We ignored it. 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’”.

The push for engagement with the Kremlin follows months of prodding by Trump, who faced resistance from senior political aides and diplomats questioning the value of meeting with Putin and worry that a tête-à-tête could cast a shadow over the NATO summit in Brussels. Senior officials at the State Department acknowledged that a meeting between the two leaders could, in theory, help resolve long-standing differences on the Ukraine, Syria, cybersecurity issues, and interference in foreign elections. However, some of those officials 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 seized as punishment for Moscow’s interference in the election.

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 the 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 cyberattacks 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.

On Wednesday, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Europe and Russia with the US National Security Council Richard Hooker told us that Washington and Moscow were considering the possibility to arrange a meeting between Trump and Putin. On 20 March, the two presidents held a telephone call and agreed to hand down instructions to start preparations for a Russia-USA summit. Putin and Trump earlier held talks on the sidelines of the G20 summit held in Hamburg in July 2017. They had another opportunity to negotiate during the APEC summit in Vietnam in November 2017 but managed only to exchange a couple of phrases. On 4 June, Presidential Aide Yuri Ushakov said that we’ve taken no specific steps in order to prepare for a summit. Meanwhile, Putin confirmed on 10 June that he was ready to meet with Trump as soon as the USA was also ready for that.

16 June 2018

TASS

http://tass.com/world/1009827

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