President Donald Trump will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Group of 20 Summit next week in Hamburg, Germany.
Both the Kremlin and the White House announced on Thursday that the pair will meet on the sidelines of the July 7-8 summit of G20 nations in Hamburg.
It will be Trump’s first face-to-face meeting with Putin, according to National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.
McMaster would not say at a White House media briefing Thursday whether the two leaders will discuss Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election when they meet on the sidelines of the summit.
“There is no specific agenda,” McMaster said, adding, “It’s whatever the president wants to talk about.”
The meeting comes amid several U.S. investigations into allegations that Russia meddled in the election through efforts that included cyberattacks and misinformation campaigns. No fewer than nine congressional committees and federal agencies are now examining some offshoot of the controversy.
Russia and the United States are also at odds over Ukraine, NATO expansion and the civil war in Syria where Moscow supports President Bashar al-Assad.
U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia engaged in widespread interference with the intent of helping Trump win the White House. Last week, former Homeland Security agency chief Jeh Johnson and other U.S. officials confirmed Russia’s meddling, but in testimony on Capitol Hill, said there was no evidence that Moscow was able to change the vote count.
Putin has rejected claims of Russian government involvement in cyberattacks on the United States. He has said, however, that “patriotic” hackers might have carried out the attacks.
Some Trump administration officials want the U.S. to remain wary of Russia while the investigations are under way; but, Trump and others in his administration are eager to meet with Putin and have been pushing to arrange media access and other protocol typically associated with full bilateral meetings.
Trump has frequently called for better ties with Russia but lawmakers in his own Republican Party are urging him to be wary of Moscow.
“As the president has made clear, he’d like the United States and the entire West to develop a more constructive relationship with Russia but he has also made clear that we will do what is necessary to confront Russia’s destabilizing behavior,” McMaster said.
Trump will also meet with UK Prime Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, among others. Trump and Moon are meeting at a summit in Washington this Thursday and Friday.
Trump has also accepted the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron to spend Bastille Day, France’s national holiday, in Paris on July 14, the US president announced Wednesday.
Trump has reportedly asked his aides to come up with ‘deliverables’ he can offer to Putin in their big meeting
President Donald Trump has asked National Security Council staff to come up with “deliverables” that he can offer to Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Germany next week, The Guardian reported Thursday.
It is unclear what those deliverables would look like, but they could include an offer to ease sanctions — which the Trump administration has reportedly looked into at least twice since January — or to give back the Russian diplomatic compounds that President Barack Obama ordered evacuated in December, reports Business Insider. Obama issued new sanctions and closed the facilities in response to Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.
The news comes on the heels of a report published by The Associated Press last week that said Trump had been pushing for a full bilateral meeting with Putin rather than just an informal “pull-aside” on the sidelines of the G-20 summit.
It is unclear what Trump would ask for in return for such concessions, if anything. A former official familiar with the debate inside the White House told The Guardian that the NSC had resisted “offering anything up without anything back in return.”