They have praised each other at a distance, taken jabs at each other’s policies and taken each other’s measure in passing at a pair of multi-national gatherings, but now President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin are moving closer to a one-on-one summit meeting.
On Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the summit was still in the planning stage. The White House has not issued any official comment on a possible summit.
The report said that Jon Huntsman, Trump’s ambassador to Russia, has been focused on getting the two leaders together.
“This has been an ongoing project of Ambassador Huntsman, stretching back months, of getting a formal meeting between Putin and Trump,” The Journal quoted an official it did not name as saying.
No time or place has been set for the summit.
In a March phone call, Trump invited Putin to the White House, New York Magazine reported.
Trump has met Putin twice before. They first met in Germany and later in Vietnam, according to The Daily Caller. The two leaders have also spoken by phone.
At the time of Trump’s election, he and Putin each made positive comments about one another and voiced hopes that they could improve relations between the two nations. However, a series of tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions and major differences regarding the civil war in Syria have chilled any potential thaw.
On Friday, the White House announced Trump’s once-canceled summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would be held on June 12. The Journal report on the potential Putin-Trump summit said that if issues develop with the North Korean summit, any meeting between Putin and Trump would be delayed.
In November, Trump spoke to reporters about his interactions with Putin at an economic summit meeting in Vietnam, according to Politico. Trump also spoke about the wider issue of U.S.-Russian relations.
Trump said he and Putin “seem to have a very good feeling for each other and a good relationship considering we don’t know each other well. I think it’s a very good relationship.”
At that time, Trump told media representatives that Putin was “insulted” by the media’s continued focus on Russian meddling in the 2016 election, and that he also had other issues to discuss with Putin.
“I can’t stand there and argue with him. I’d rather have him get out of Syria, to be honest with you. I’d rather have him — you know, work with him on … Ukraine,” Trump said, adding that he and Putin “have a good feeling toward getting things done.”
Trump said a positive relationship between the United States and Russia is good for the world.
“If we had a relationship with Russia, that would be a good thing. In fact, it would be a great thing, not a bad thing. Because he could really help us in North Korea. We have a big problem with North Korea. And China is helping us. And because of the lack of a relationship that we have with Russia because of this artificial thing that’s happening with this Democratic-inspired thing, we could really be helped a lot, tremendously, with Russia having to do with North Korea,” he said.
“And, you know, you’re talking about millions and millions of lives. This isn’t baby stuff. This is the real deal. And if Russia helped us, in addition to China, that problem would go away a lot faster,” Trump added.
Trump noted at the time that Democrat presidential nominee Hillary Clinton helped worsen relations with Russia while she served as former President Barack Obama’s secretary of state.
“And I’ll say this, Hillary had her stupid reset button that she spelled the word wrong, but she doesn’t have what it takes to have that kind of a relationship where you could call or you could do something and they would pull back from North Korea, or they’d pull back from Syria, or maybe pull back from Ukraine,” Trump said.
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