No schedule for Trump-Putin meeting
MOSCOW — Russia and the United States are still discussing the timing of the first faceto-face encounter between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, expected to take place at a G20 summit in Germany on Friday, a Kremlin aide said on Monday.
Since Trump was elected US president, Russia has been keenly anticipating his first meeting with Putin, hoping it would trigger a reset in US-Russia relations that plunged to post-Cold War lows under Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama.
But with Trump embroiled in a row at home over his associates’ alleged links to Moscow, the encounter with Putin has become a minefield.
Kremlin foreign policy aide Yuri Ushakov told reporters the Trump-Putin meeting would happen on the sidelines of the summit on Friday in Hamburg, RIA news agency reported. But it was not yet finalized how it would fit into the summit’s schedule.
“We will be looking for certain breaks, windows to hold this, the most important, meeting,” Ushakov said.
“We have a lot of issues, which should be discussed at the highest level. ... That’s why this meeting, this first personal contact, is so important.”
Asked about the agenda for the meeting, Ushakov said: “I’ve heard the Americans want to raise the issues of terrorism and Syria. It seems to me that would be pretty reasonable.”
Ushakov said that ties between Russia and the US were at “zero level”.
The Kremlin aide urged the US “to save us from the need to retaliate” against Washington for expelling Russian diplomats and seizing two Russian diplomatic compounds on US soil, one in Maryland and the other on Long Island. He said Mos- cow’s patience “has its limits”.
Obama ordered the expulsion of the 35 Russians in late December, seized the compounds, and imposed sanctions on two Russian intelligence agencies over what he said was their involvement in hacking political groups in the Nov 8 US presidential election.
Russia has denied interfering in the US election. Putin said at the time he would not retaliate immediately, in the expectation that relations would improve under Trump.
With no thaw materializing yet, Russian officials have said this month that they may now have to take “symmetrical” steps in retaliation.
We have a lot of issues, which should be discussed at the highest level.” Yuri Ushakov, Kremlin foreign policy aide
People gather outside a federal courthouse in Urbana, Illionis, on Monday as the suspect in the kidnapping of Zhang Yingying, a Chinese scholar at the University of Illinois, make his first appearance. Brendt Christensen, 28, was ordered to be held without bond until his next hearing on Wednesday.