June 27, 2018
Russian presidential aide says location of meeting will not be in the US or Russia, after meeting between Putin and John Bolton
Trump and Putin to reveal details of first official summit
Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin have agreed a time and place to hold their first official summit, a senior Russian official announced on Wednesday.
The Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov told journalists that the summit will be held in a country other than Russia or the United States. The date and location of the meeting will be announced on Thursday, Ushakov said.
The announcement followed a one-on-one meeting between the US national security adviser, John Bolton, and Putin at the Kremlin on Wednesday, where the two sides discussed the summit, nuclear arms control and other bilateral issues, according to the Russian side.
Bolton confirmed that the meeting would take place and said Moscow and Washington would announce the details “simultaneously”. The summit will be the two leaders’ first encounter since they met at the G20 summit in July 2017.
In Washington, Trump told reporters that he had watched the Bolton-Putin interview on television but had yet to receive a “full report”.
“It would look like we will probably be meeting in the not too distant future and I’ve said it from day one getting along with Russia and China and with everybody is a very good thing,” the president said in the Oval Office.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday evening, Bolton defended the meeting, saying: “I don’t think it’s unusual for the leaders of Russia and the US to meet,” he said.
Trump and Putin “think now is the time for them to get together”, Bolton said. “Direct communications between Trump and Putin is in the best interests of the United States.”
Asked about what the summit could achieve he said he was not sure anything concrete would follow. The “fact of the summit is a deliverable”, he said.
Bolton, a foreign policy hawk, did not veer widely from stated US policy. He said US policy had not changed on sanctions imposed after Russia seized Crimea, and, asked about Moscow’s interference in US elections, said: “I think Trump is going to raise the full range of issues between Russia and the United States, absolutely.”
Asked whether the US would recognize the Russian annexation of Crimea, he said: “That is not the position of the United States.”
Bolton, accompanied by the US ambassador to Moscow, Jon Huntsman, also met the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, the defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, and an adviser, Yuri Ushakov, whose portfolio includes US policy.
“I have to say with regret that Russian-American relations are not in the best shape,” Putin told Bolton, “and I’ve already said this repeatedly in public and am saying this to you now: I think that this is largely a result of the acute internal political struggle within the US itself.”
He added: “Your arrival in Moscow has given us hope that we can make the first steps to reviving full relations between our governments.”
Russia has said it is open to a summit between Putin and Trump, and it has been reported that White House and Kremlin officials have met in recent months to make preparations. Vienna and Helsinki have been suggested as potential venues for the meeting.
The two sides have been at odds over issues including Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 US election, the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, cybersecurity, Nato policy and nuclear weapons. Relations between the two countries are widely seen as being at their worst since the cold war.
Bolton has previously called for a tougher US stance against Iran, North Korea and Russia. But Trump has charted a course more favourable to Putin, defying a US foreign policy establishment that has widely condemned Russia for allegedly hacking US political parties and spreading disinformation during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Russia and the US have closed consulates and expelled hundreds of diplomats in tit-for-tat actions during the diplomatic fallout.
Trump and Putin met twice at a G20 meeting Hamburg last year, and had a discussion over dinner with only a Russian translator also present. Trump said the leaders discussed adoption policy.
Expectations for any summit between Putin and Trump are modest, especially as meaningful sanctions relief for Russia would require the consent of the US Congress.
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