Fri, Jun 29, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Russia, US agree Putin-Trump summit

No ‘NEXUS’:Some critics have expressed concern that, in his eagerness to come back from a summit with a ‘deal,’ Donald Trump might concede too much to Vladimir Putin

AFP, MOSCOW

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday agreed to a summit with US President Donald Trump in a third nation in talks with the US leader’s national security adviser, voicing hope for an easing of tensions.

Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton was received in Moscow with top honors, a lunch hosted by Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov followed by a markedly courteous meeting with Putin at the Kremlin.

US-Russian relations have been strained by disagreement over the Syrian conflict, Russia’s annexation of Crimea, its involvement in eastern Ukraine and allegations of political meddling.

The Kremlin’s top foreign policy aide said Putin and Bolton agreed that the two presidents would meet in a third nation.

“Your visit to Moscow gives us hope that we can at least take the first step to reviving full-blown ties between our states,” Putin told Bolton at the Kremlin after the two smiled and shook hands for the cameras.

“We never sought confrontation,” Putin said, adding that he regretted Russia-US ties were not “on top form.”

Bolton, previously known for his hawkish reputation and tough stance on Moscow, said it was important to keep talking and complimented Putin on his handling of the FIFA World Cup, currently taking place in Russia.

“Even in earlier days when our countries had differences our leaders and their advisers met, and I think that was good for both countries, good for stability in the world, and President Trump feels very strongly on that subject,” Bolton said.

Ties have been strained by a probe into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election and suspected collusion with the Trump campaign, as well as by the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain.

In Washington, Trump said he had not yet heard a full report from Bolton about plans for a Putin summit, “but it would look like we will probably be meeting sometime in the not too distant future.”

“I think we’ll be talking about Syria. I think we’ll be talking about Ukraine. I think we’ll be talking about many other subjects, and we’ll see what happens. You never know about meetings what happens, right?” Trump said. “But I think a lot of good things can come with meetings with people. We had great meetings with [Chinese] President Xi [Jinping (習近平)]. Every place I’ve been, we have had great meetings. So maybe something positive will come out of it.”

Some Trump critics in Washington have expressed concern that, in his eagerness to come back from a summit with a “deal,” Trump might concede too much to Putin without getting much in return, but US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday told US lawmakers that Washington regards Russia’s annexation of Crimea, intervention in Ukraine and partial occupation of Georgia as entirely illegal.

Pompeo said he was sure that when Trump meets Putin “he will make clear that meddling in our elections is completely unacceptable.”

In Moscow, Bolton told a news conference that the idea that a summit would prove some kind of “nexus between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin” would be “complete nonsense.”

“What must guide his conduct of American foreign policy is the pursuit of American national interests,” Bolton said of Trump. “He will do this regardless of political criticism at home.”

Putin’s foreign policy aide Yury Ushakov said the two presidents would focus on relations between their two nations, Syria and nuclear arms control, and could adopt a joint statement to help improve ties as well as global security.

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