President Trump and Russian leader Vladimir Putin will hold their first official summit on July 16 in the capital of Finland, both governments announced simultaneously on Thursday.
“President Donald J. Trump and President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation will meet on July 16, 2018, in Helsinki, Finland. The two leaders will discuss relations between the United States and Russia and a range of national security issues,” the White House statement said.
The summit is likely to stir up the controversy surrounding Trump’s connections to Russia at a time when relations with the world power are regarded as the poorest since the Cold War.
The summit is expected to address arms control and other national security issues as well as Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, an allegation the Kremlin denies.
“It was stated clearly by our side that the Russian state hasn’t interfered with the U.S. domestic politics, moreover hasn’t interfered in the 2016 election,” Putin aide Yuri Ushakov said.
In likely a conciliatory move before the summit, Trump repeated Russia’s claim that it did not try to affect the outcome of the election, writing Thursday on Twitter that Hillary Clinton’s ties to Russia should instead be investigated.
The meeting will be the third time the two leaders have met face-to-face.
“I think a lot of good things can come from meetings with people,” Trump said Wednesday. “Maybe something positive will come out of it.”
National Security advisor John Bolton met with Putin on Wednesday.
Last year, Bolton warned that “we negotiate with Russia at our peril.”
More recently, though, he said “direct communications between Trump and Putin” will be the U.S.’s best bet.
“I don’t think it’s unusual for the leaders of Russia and the US to meet,” Bolton said. “Direct communications between Trump and Putin is in the best interests of the United States.”
“I don’t think it’s unusual for the leaders of Russia and the US to meet,” he said. “Direct communications between Trump and Putin is in the best interests of the United States.”
“Your arrival in Moscow has given us hope that we can make the first steps to reviving full relations between our governments,” Putin told Bolton.
In addition to trading barbs over election meddling, America is at loggerheads with Russia over Syria and Ukraine as well as nuclear arms treaties.