The United States and Russia have agreed to hold a summit between Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, with Trump telling reporters he will bring up the war in Syria and the crisis in Ukraine.
Trump’s brief comments to reporters on June 27 in Washington came after U.S. national security adviser John Bolton told a news conference in Moscow that the White House and Kremlin would make simultaneous announcements on June 28 to specify when and where the meeting would be held.
Trump suggested the summit -- the first full-fledged meeting between the two presidents since Trump took office in January 2017 -- could take place in Europe after the July 11-12 NATO summit in Brussels, possibly Helsinki, Finland.
Vienna has also been cited as a possible venue.
Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov earlier on the day said the meeting will be held in a third country that is convenient for both sides.
Speaking after holding talks with Putin, Bolton said Trump will raise a “full range of issues” with Russia’s leader, including alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, something Moscow has denied, and conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.
Before Bolton’s meeting with Putin, the Russian president said he regretted that ties between the former Cold War foes are "not in the best shape" and suggested their dire state is due in large part to what he called "the internal political struggle" in the United States -- indicating he does not blame Trump for the disagreements.
Bolton told the news conference that “both President Trump and President Putin feel that it is important for these two leaders of these critically important countries to get together and discuss their mutual problems and areas of cooperation."
“It is something that both feel will contribute to U.S.-Russia bilateral relationship and civility around the world,” he added.
The planned meeting is likely to worry some U.S. allies and draw a criticism from Trump’s opponents at home, including most vehemently from many Democrats, who have accused Trump of having colluded with Moscow to interfere in the 2016 president to support his candidacy against that of rival Hillary Clinton.
“I don’t think it’s anything unusual for President Trump and President Putin to meet. If you just look meetings in the past year. The leaders of the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Greece, Finland, Austria, Belgium and Italy have all had bilateral meetings with President Putin," Bolton said.
"President Trump felt, and I think President Putin agreed, now is the time for the two of them to get together," Bolton said, adding that he believes the accusations of election meddling will be "subject of conversation" between Trump and Putin.
In a sometimes-contentious news conference, a Western reporter reminded Bolton that before joining the U.S. administration, he had called Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election a “true act of war.”
Bolton did not answer directly, saying only that he did not address "what I've written in the past. Right now, I'm an adviser to President Trump" and it is his agenda that is important.
On Ukraine, when asked whether Trump would recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Bolton responded by saying, “That is not the position of the United States.”
He added the United States believed that sanctions placed on Russia for its seizure of Crimea and its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine should stay in place.
He did say, however, it was possible Trump and Putin would discuss the U.S. president’s remarks that Russia should be reallowed into the Group of Seven (G7) leading industrial nations, as he suggested last month in Canada.
Russia was expelled from the grouping, known then as the G8, for its activities in Ukraine.
Among actions taken by Washington against Moscow for its alleged interference in the elections was the seizure of several Russian diplomatic sites in the United States.
When asked by a Russian reporters when the United States would return the properties that were “illegally” seized, Bolton said the “premise” of the question was wrong and that the sites were not taken “illegally.”