The White House is reportedly in early talks with the Kremlin to arrange a face-to-face meeting between US President Donald Trump and his Russia counterpart, Vladimir Putin, at a time of heightened tensions between Moscow and Washington.
Citing a senior official from the Trump administration, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that the US ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman has been helping to set up a meeting between the two world leaders.
“This has been an ongoing project of Ambassador Huntsman, stretching back months, of getting a formal meeting between Putin and Trump,” the Journal quoted an administration official as saying.
The plans are said to be at an early stage, as neither a date nor a location have yet been determined.
According to people familiar with the efforts, before any summit between the two leaders, a meeting will likely be held between the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joe Dunford and the chief of the Russian General Staff Valery Gerasimov.
If happens, the summit would be the third between Trump and Putin. They met before on the sidelines of Group of 20 summit in the German city of Hamburg last July. The two met again during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam in November.
Trump, who has long been seeking better relations with Russia, has extended an invitation to Putin during a phone call in March, when he congratulated the Russian president on his victory.
After he spoke to Putin on the phone, Trump tweeted that “Getting along with Russia (and others) is a good thing, not a bad thing…”
The following month, however, Trump took to Twitter once again, saying that “our relationship with Russia is worse now than it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War.”
As president-elect in January 2017, he said that he wanted a cordial relationship with Putin.
“If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability, because we have a horrible relationship with Russia,” he said at a news conference back then.
The US president is currently busy with an upcoming summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un that is scheduled for June 12 in Singapore.
According to an administration official, “If negotiations there continue, [work on the Russia summit] will be delayed.”
The two will have a lot to talk about, including, nuclear arms control; the ongoing war in Syria and relation with Ukraine. All would be among topics in a potential summit between Trump and Putin.