Trump, Putin to hold first summit in July to improve US-Russia relations

It has been announced Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet for their first summit in Helsinki, Finland, next month in a bid to correct troubled relations between the two nations.

A neutral site favored by the U.S. and the USSR during the Cold War, the Helsinki meeting is scheduled to take place on July 16.

“This meeting has been planned for a long time. It has enormous importance for Russia and America, but it (also) has huge importance for the whole international situation. I think it will be the main international event of the summer,” Kremlin spokesman Yuri Ushakov said Wednesday.

A vague statement released by the White House announcing the meeting explained the discussions would focus on relations between the two countries and a “range” of national security issues.

Released virtually simultaneously, a Kremlin statement was equally terse, offering few details, but confirming the agenda revolving around relations with the U.S. and “current international matters.”

The announcement of the summit follows a series of meetings between Mr. Putin and National Security Adviser John Bolton, which were reportedly cordial and effective, with Putin expressing his wish to improve ties based on mutual respect.

Mr. Putin is said to have blamed the poor state of relations between the two countries on “political infighting” in the U.S.

Discussions between Bolton and Putin broached the delicate issue of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, with the Kremlin leader again denying his country’s interference with the vote.

In addition to allegations election meddling, relations between Russia and the U.S. have also soured over Russia’s annexation of Crimea and disputes in Syria.

Although the Trump and Putin met twice in 2017 on the sidelines of two international conferences, the last of which was the APEC summit in Vietnam in November 2017, the pair have not held official discussions.

Ahead of the July summit, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to set the stage for the conference.

President Trump is scheduled to attend the annual NATO meeting in Brussels July 11–12 before meeting Queen Elizabeth II and U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May on July 13.

Mr. Trump will then travel to Finland’s capital from London.

 

[Reuters] [Photo courtesy AP via Sputnik]