Donald Trump to hold talks with Vladimir Putin 'within weeks' of becoming President

Reports denied by Kremlin suggest Republican to begin work on a deal limiting nuclear weapons weeks into presidency

May Bulman@maybulman
Sunday 15 January 2017 16:14
The President-elect and his team have reportedly told British officials they will meet with Vladimir Putin within weeks of Mr Trump's inauguration
The President-elect and his team have reportedly told British officials they will meet with Vladimir Putin within weeks of Mr Trump's inauguration

Donald Trump is to hold a summit with Vladimir Putin in his first foreign trip as president, according to reports.

The President-elect and his team have reportedly told British officials they will meet the Russian leader within weeks of Mr Trump's inauguration.

The two leaders will work on a deal limiting nuclear weapons in a bid to strengthen US ties with Russia, according to the Sunday Times.

The meeting is likely to take place in the Icelandic capital, Reykjavik, according to the reports, echoing Ronald Reagan’s historic superpower talks with former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev in the city, which became one of the most important summits in the history of US-Russia relations.

A Trump adviser reportedly said the President-elect intended to meet Mr Putin at a venue outside the US and Russia “very soon” and that Reykjavik was under “active consideration”.

“What does Putin want? Prestige — centre stage at the summit, the one-on-one meeting, the hand on the back from Trump,” the advisor said.

“That gives the US tremendous leverage. Mr Trump is master of the photo op and he will use that skill.”

A spokesperson for Mr Putin however refuted the claims on Sunday, telling Russian journalists there had been no talks yet about a possible meeting between the Russian President and Mr Trump.

“There have not been talks about a meeting yet,” the Kremlin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told RIA news agency.

It comes amid allegations – denied by the President-elect – that Russia may hold compromising footage of a sexual nature which could be used to blackmail him.

Despite the allegations, Mr Trump said earlier this week that he was prepared to meet Mr Putin, saying: “I understand that they [the Kremlin] would like to meet, and that's absolutely fine with me."

On Saturday, a senior US official said the President-elect's national security adviser had been in “very frequent” contact with Russia’s ambassador to the US, suggesting Mr Trump’s desire to build closer ties with Russia was well underway despite mounting concerns over the nature of the relationship.

Mr Trump has also suggested sanctions placed on Russia by Barack Obama could be lifted if the country works with the US on battling terrorists and other goals, reinforcing the notion that he is keen to warm the US relationship with Russia.

Reports that Mr Trump is to hold talks with the Russian President so imminently are said to have concerned senior figures in the UK Government, who fear that improving relations between the US and Russia could risk isolating Britain from important talks on the world stage.

It has meanwhile emerged that Christopher Steele, the British former M16 agent who investigated Mr Trump’s alleged Kremlin links, was so worried by what he was discovering that at the end he was working without pay.

Security sources told The Independent Mr Steele had became increasingly frustrated that the FBI was failing to take action on the intelligence from others as well as him that he also decided to pass on information to both British and American intelligence officials.

Mr Steele is now in hiding, under attack from some Tory MPs for supposedly trying to ruin the chances of Theresa May’s Government building a fruitful relationship with the Trump administration, while some also accuse him of being part of an anti-Brexit conspiracy.

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