Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday he has invited President Donald Trump to Moscow for a second face-to-face meeting and that he was "ready to come to Washington."
"We are ready to invite President Trump to Moscow. He has, by the way, such an invitation, I told him about it," Putin said Friday during an economic summit in Johannesburg, South Africa.
"And I'm ready to come to Washington if appropriate conditions for work are created," he added.
Putin added that he and Trump had discussed at their meeting last week topics that “concern very many countries around the world and, including, all of Europe,” and buttered up his American counterpart with flattery.
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"The big plus of president Trump is that he strives to fulfill the promises, above all, given to voters," Putin said.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Friday that the president is open to Putin's request and anticipates Putin visiting Washington early next year.
"President Trump looks forward to having President Putin to Washington after the first of the year, and he is open to visiting Moscow upon receiving a formal invitation," Sanders said.
On Wednesday, Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, said that a D.C.-based meeting betweenTrump and Putin would be put off until 2019 because of special counsel Robert Mueller’s "witch hunt."
"The president believes that the next bilateral meeting with President Putin should take place after the Russia witch hunt is over, so we’ve agreed that it will be after the first of the year," Bolton said in a statement that was notable for the senior adviser's use of the term "witch hunt" when discussing diplomatic matters.
Putin's remarks come just one week after Trump and Putin met for a summit in Helsinki, Finland, but contradict comments made from top aides to each leader after the session that indicated a second forum was not in the works any time soon.
Trump had, last week, invited Putin to Washington this fall.
Bolton’s announced postponement followed comments from Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov, who wouldn't say whether Putin would accept Trump's invitation. According to Reuters, Ushakov said only that the two leaders would have other opportunities to meet, including at the G20 leaders in Argentina later this year.
Trump’s invitation to Putin — as well as Bolton’s subsequent delay of an invite — came just days after their Finland summit, which was widely blasted by U.S. lawmakers.
At a joint press conference during the summit last week, Trump railed against special counsel Robert Mueller and members of the news media and suggested that Putin was more credible than his own intelligence officials, including Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, who has accused Russia of undertaking an "unprecedented influence campaign" in 2016. Trump was also criticized for meeting with Putin one-on-one with only interpreters present in the room.