Putin-Trump Summit Will Happen, Says Kremlin Aide

Anticipation has been high for a possible Trump-Putin meeting as Trump seeks to mend strained relations with Russia

In this file photo taken on Friday, July 7, 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany.
AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File

Moscow and Washington have struck a deal to hold a summit soon between Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump, Kremlin foreign policy aide Yuri Ushakov told reporters on Wednesday.

Ushakov, speaking after Putin held talks with U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton in the Kremlin, said the summit would take place in a mutually convenient third country and that several more weeks were needed to prepare for it. 

"This meeting has been planned for a long time," said Ushakov. "It has enormous importance for Russia and America, but it (also) has huge importance for the whole international situation. I think it will be the main international event of the summer." 

The two leaders will meet at a "comfortable venue in a third country," Ushakov said. There has been media speculation for weeks about a possible Trump-Putin summit next month, perhaps in Vienna.

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Such a summit is likely to irritate U.S. allies who want to isolate Putin, such as Britain or who are concerned about Trump's attitude towards Russia. It is also likely to go down badly among foreign and domestic critics who question Trump's commitment to NATO and fret over his desire to rebuild ties with Moscow even as Washington tightens sanctions. 

Ushakov said Moscow and Washington would announce the time and place of the summit on Thursday. Further details have yet to be worked out, he added. 

Still, on Wednesday night, U.S. President Donald Trump said he'll probably be meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin during an upcoming trip to Europe in July.

The meeting is expected to take place after Trump attends a NATO summit and visits Britain next month. A senior U.S. official said on Tuesday that Finland's capital Helsinki was being considered as a location. 

Bolton, a lifelong hawk who warned last year before his own appointment that Washington negotiated with Putin's Russia at its peril, is due to give a news conference at 1600 GMT, where he may provide further details. 
Trump congratulated Putin by phone in March after the Russian leader's landslide re-election victory and said the two would meet soon. 

Since then, already poor ties between Washington and Moscow have deteriorated further over the conflict in Syria and the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain which sparked big diplomatic expulsions in both countries. 

Washington and Moscow are also at odds over Ukraine and allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, something Russia denies.