WASHINGTON/MOSCOW, June 28 (PTI): US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin will hold their first summit meeting on July 16 in the Finnish capital Helsinki to mend bilateral relations, the White House and the Kremlin announced on Thursday.
The summit will take place four days after a NATO summit on July 11 and 12 in Brussels, Belgium, where Trump will meet leaders of US military allies. Trump plans to visit London to meet British Prime Minister Theresa May on July 13.
The two leaders “will meet on July 16, 2018, in Helsinki, Finland,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said.
“The two leaders will discuss relations between the United States and Russia and a range of national security issues,” Sanders said in a statement.
In Moscow, the Kremlin press service said Putin and Trump will discuss “the current state and prospects of further development of Russian-US relations and also vital issues of the international agenda.”
Putin and Trump held their first talks on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Germany’s Hamburg in July 2017. They had another opportunity to hold negotiations during the APEC summit in Vietnam in November 2017 but no full-fledged meeting took place.
The announcement of the date and venue of the summit follows a meeting between President Putin and US National Security Adviser John Bolton in Moscow on Wednesday.
Putin’s adviser Yuri Ushakov had said the two leaders will meet in a third country.
The summit will include one-on-one talks between the presidents and conclude with a joint news conference, Ushakov said, adding that the two leaders are expected to issue a joint statement after their meeting.
“Both President Trump and President Putin feel that it’s important for these two leaders of these two critically important countries to get together and discuss their mutual problems and areas of co-operation,” Bolton said.
“It’s something that I think both feel will contribute to improvements in the US-Russia bilateral relationship and in stability around the world,” he added.
President Putin said his meeting with Bolton had raised hopes for a full restoration of relations, which he admitted were not in the best of shape.
Putin insisted Moscow had never sought confrontation and that, in his view, the poor state of relations was a result of fierce political confrontation inside the US itself.
Relations between Washington and Moscow have hit lows not seen since the Cold War over Russia’s annexation of Crimea as well as disagreement over the Syrian conflict.
The summit with Putin also comes amid FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US election. Trump has been critical of the probe, denying any collusion and arguing that the Democrats should be investigated instead.
Since assuming power, President Trump has sought to improve relations with Putin.
Trump said this month that Russia should be re-admitted to the powerful G-7 group of industrialised nations from which it was suspended after annexing Crimea in 2014.
Trump’s summit with Putin is likely to draw criticism from the President’s domestic critics, who accuse him of currying favour with Putin, and jitter US allies, who fear Trump will take a less hawkish position with Russia on issues such as the annexation of Crimea and military exercises near the Russian border in eastern Europe, CNN reported.