Trump-Putin summit to take place in Helsinki on 16 July, White House reveals

'Getting along with Russia and with China and with everybody is a very good thing,' US president says

Chris Stevenson
New York
Thursday 28 June 2018 14:16 BST
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Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin talk during a photo session at the APEC Summit in Vietnam in 2017
Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin talk during a photo session at the APEC Summit in Vietnam in 2017 (REUTERS/Jorge Silva)

Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin will hold a summit on 16 July in Helsinki, the White House and the Kremlin have said.

“The two leaders will discuss relations between the United States and Russia and a range of national security issues,” the White House said.

The meeting takes a place in the midst of a number of investigations involving Congress and the FBI into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, including possible links between the Russians and Trump campaign associates.

Ahead of the simultaneous announcement, Mr Trump tweeted: “Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election!” Mr Trump, as he has done numerous times, encouraged investigators to look at the Democrats instead.

The synchronised announcement comes a day after Mr Trump's National Security Adviser John Bolton held talks with Russian officials in Moscow to lay the groundwork for the summit.

Mr Trump said on Wednesday that “getting along with Russia and with China and with everybody is a very good thing.” He said they would discuss Syria, Ukraine and “many other subjects.”

Mr Putin had two brief meetings with Mr Trump on the sidelines of international summits last year, but this will be the first full-fledged summit between the pair.

Previous US and Russian leaders to have met in Helsinki includes George H W Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev, who met there in September 1990 to discuss the crisis in the Gulf ahead of Operation Desert Storm.

Russia has faced sanctions, diplomatic expulsions and difficult relations with a number of nations over a range of issues in recent years. These include Russia’s actions in Ukraine and Syria and the annexation of Crimea. The poisoning of a Russian former spy in Salisbury has also heightened tensions between Moscow and the UK. Mr Bolton said in Moscow Mr Trump would raise the “full range of issues”.

The US initially sanctioned Russia over the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and its support for a pro-Russian uprising in the east of the country. Subsequent sanctions have punished Moscow for what Washington has called its malign behaviour and alleged meddling in US politics.

Special prosecutor Robert Mueller, leading the FBI investigation into the 2016 presidential election, has indicted Russian firms and individuals for allegedly meddling to the benefit of Mr Trump. Mr Mueller's team is also investigating whether anyone in Mr Trump’s campaign helped the Russian effort. The US president has repeatedly called the investigation a “witch hunt”. The Kremlin also denies being involved in any interference.

Mr Bolton said he did not think there was “anything unusual” about Mr Trump meeting Mr Putin.

Putin talks a prospect of world war 3, the skripals and Russian security

“I think the fact of the summit itself is a deliverable,” Mr Bolton said after talks with Mr Putin and other Russian officials. “There are a lot of issues to talk about that have accumulated, and I think this was one of the reasons why President Trump believed so strongly that it was time to have this kind of meeting. And as you can see, President Putin agreed.”

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is likely to meet with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo within the next two weeks as part of efforts to set the stage for the summit.

Mr Ryabkov said in remarks carried by Russian news agencies on Thursday that Moscow has already made a proposal regarding the specifics of the meeting and is waiting for Washington's answer.

Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the meeting, saying that Nato's approach to Russia is one of defence and but also dialogue

“It's absolutely, totally in line with Nato policies to talk to Russia, to meet with Russian leaders. We don't want a new Cold War. We don't want to isolate Russia. We want to strive for a better relationship,” Mr Stoltenberg said.

"For me, dialogue is not a sign of weakness. Dialogue is a sign of strength,” he added

Mr Trump will attend talks with his Nato counterparts in Brussels on 11 and 12 July

Associated Press contributed to this report

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