US President Donald Trump today said he is “most likely” to hold a summit meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Europe next month.
Trump is scheduled to attend the July 11-12 NATO summit in Brussels. Besides, he is likely to visit London for talks with British Prime Minister Theresa May on that trip.
“I’ve said it from day one: Getting along with Russia and with China and with everybody is a very good thing. It’s good for the world, it’s good for us, it’s good for everybody. So, we’ll probably be meeting sometime around my trip to Europe,” Trump told reporters during a joint media appearance with Polish President Rebelo De Sousa.
The likelihood of a Trump-Putin summit comes on the back of US National Security Advisor John Bolton’s Moscow visit.
Trump said he would know about the date and venue of his maiden summit meeting with Putin later in the day.
The two leaders have met twice last year on the sidelines of the international summits.
“I think we’ll be talking about Syria, Ukraine, and many other subjects. We’ll see what happens. So you never know,” Trump said in response to a question.
“You never know about meetings, what happens. But I think a lot of good things can come with meetings with people. We had great meetings with President Xi of China. Every place I’ve been, we have had great meetings. So maybe something positive will come out of it,” he said.
US Vice President Mike Pence who is currently travelling to Ecuador welcomed the prospects of the meeting.
“Plans for Putin meeting with Trump is just one more example of president Trump’s willingness to engage leaders around the world but he will engage by putting America first.
Just as we saw in the Singapore summit and in meetings with allies at the G7 summit in Canada,” Pence said.
Earlier in Moscow, Bolton told reporters that it is in US’ national interest to have a meeting with Putin.
“Despite all the political noise, President Trump has decided it’s in the interests of the US to talk to President Putin. There is a wide range of issues we can work constructively on despite the differences between us,” he said.
Bolton also sought to dismiss the allegations that the meeting proves some nexus between Russia and the Trump campaign.
“I think this is nonsense … He (Trump) is pursuing US foreign policy in the national interest,” Bolton said.
The summit meeting would be preceded by a meeting between the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, he added.
During a Congressional hearing, Pompeo told lawmakers that at the meeting Trump would raise the issue of Russian meddling in US elections.
“I am confident when President meets with Vladimir (Putin), he will make clear that meddling in our elections is completely unacceptable,” he said.
Democratic Senator Chris Coons said it is entirely possible for a US Russia summit to be constructive.
“But I’m very concerned that after his recent performance at the G-7 in Canada, President Trump will once again clash with our closest allies at the upcoming NATO summit, only to then engage in fawning photo ops with President Putin afterwards,” he said.
“President Trump’s failure to hold Putin accountable for interfering in our 2016 election; aggressively supporting the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria; and illegally annexing a key part of Ukraine, the Crimean Peninsula, makes us less safe, not more,” Coons said.
He expressed hope that President Trump would take a “different approach” and stand up for America’s interests and values.
Another Democratic Senator Mark Warner said the meeting might just be another photo-op between the two leaders.
“Unless the President holds Putin accountable for: – 2016 election interference, Undermining European democracies, UK chemical attack, Invading Crimea, Arming Ukrainian separatists, Supporting Assad’s war crimes, this will just be another photo-op with a dictator,” Warner tweeted.