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Trump and Putin to hold first summit

The first meeting between the two men not on the sidelines of a larger gathering of world leaders is expected to occur in mid-July.
President Donald Trump with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit on July 7, 2017, in Hamburg, Germany.Evan Vucci / AP

President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin have agreed to hold a summit meeting, with the time and place to be announced on Thursday, Russian and U.S. officials said Wednesday.

The meeting — the first between the two men not on the sidelines of a larger gathering of world leaders — is expected to occur in mid-July, when Trump is scheduled to be in Europe to visit Belgium and Britain, said Russian foreign policy adviser Yuri Ushakov, according to Russian state media. The summit is not expected to take place in either Russia or the U.S.

The announcement of the Trump-Putin summit, which will draw intense interest given special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the Kremlin’s election interference and the Trump campaign's alleged ties to Russia, follows meetings in Moscow this week between Putin and national security adviser John Bolton.

Bolton confirmed plans for the summit in a news conference later Wednesday, saying that Trump had "asked me to speak to speak to Russian authorities about a possible meeting between him and Putin."

"There will be an announcement tomorrow on that simultaneously between Moscow and Washington on date and time of that meeting," Bolton said.

Trump also confirmed the meeting on Wednesday, telling reporters at the White House that it will be beneficial for U.S.-Russia relations.

"It would look like we will probably be meeting sometime in the not too distant future," Trump said. "I’ve said it from Day 1 getting along with Russia and with China and with everybody is a very good thing it is good for the world its good for us its good for everybody so we’ll probably be meeting sometime around my trip to Europe."

Topics of discussion would include Syria and Ukraine, Trump said, but did not answer a question about whether he would raise the issue of Russian meddling in the U.S. election.

Putin had characterized his conversations with Bolton as an opportunity to begin repairing relations between the U.S. and Russia, blaming the erosion on the "bitter internal political struggle in the U.S."

"Your visit to Moscow gives us the hope that we will be able to make at least first steps toward restoring full-fledged relations between our countries," Putin said during the meeting with Bolton, according to TASS, a Russian news agency. He then claimed, "Russia has never sought confrontation."

Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who is also widely viewed as a foreign policy hawk, joined the Trump administration in March.

Trump has met Putin in-person twice — once at the Group of 20 nations summit in Germany last July and later at the Asia-Pacific summit in Vietnam last November.

Trump also recently proposed that Russia be reinstated in the Group of Seven nations — which current membership includes the U.S., the U.K., France, Japan, Germany, Italy and Canada — after it was expelled in 2014 for annexing Crimea.

"They threw Russia out. They should let Russia come back in because we should have Russia at the negotiating table," Trump said as he was en route to the summit in Canada earlier this month.

Trump immediately faced pushback from foreign diplomats and members of his own party in Congress for the suggestion.

"This is weak," Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., said at the time. "Putin is not our friend and he is not the president's buddy. He is a thug using Soviet-style aggression to wage a shadow war against America, and our leaders should act like it."