WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Donald Trump says he is considering a meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin in July.
"We’re looking at the possibility," Trump told a White House meeting with U.S. governors on June 21, according to Bloomberg News.
CNN, citing diplomatic sources, said the Trump-Putin meeting would likely take place in mid-July before or after Trump’s trip to Britain and a NATO summit in Brussels.
CNN quoted one source as saying Trump wanted the meeting to take place in Washington but that Moscow had insisted on a neutral site, possibly Vienna.
The comments follow remarks by a White House aide saying that national security adviser John Bolton plans to travel to Moscow in the next few days to discuss a potential meeting between Putin.
"On June 25-27, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton will meet with U.S. allies in London and Rome to discuss national security issues, and travel to Moscow to discuss a potential meeting between Presidents Trump and Putin," Garrett Marquis, special assistant to the president, wrote on Twitter.
Bolton will leave on June 25 and first meet with officials in London and Rome, then head to Russia. The trip will end on June 27, Marquis said.
Russia 'Ready For Contacts'
The U.S. comments came hours after Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov had indicated to reporters that Bolton would visit Moscow.
"As far as we know, such a trip will actually take place. This is all that we can say right now," Peskov told reporters on June 21 when asked whether Moscow was expecting Bolton's visit.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia was "ready for contacts" with the United States.
"If the agreement on a high-level meeting is reached, it will be announced," Lavrov added.
The U.S. president said in March he would meet Putin soon, but since then ties between Washington and Moscow have further deteriorated over the conflict in Syria and the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain, which the West blames on Moscow.
During his presidential campaign and into his presidency, Trump has consistently stated his desires for better relations with Russia and Putin in particular, despite opposition from Democrats and even many in his own Republican Party.
Critics charge Trump has not done enough to punish Russia for allegedly interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.
He has also concerned many people in the U.S. and among allies for apparently playing down Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula in 2014.