President Trump will hold his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin next week on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, White House officials said Thursday.
“We have no specific agenda,” national security adviser H.R. McMaster told reporters during a briefing on the trip, which includes a stop in Warsaw. “It’s whatever the president wants to talk about.”
The Kremlin also announced a meeting between the two leaders, but neither side offered details.
“They will meet” on the sidelines of the G-20, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Thursday, but he added: “If we are speaking about preparations for a separate meeting with Trump, no preparations are being made for any separate meeting at the moment. There is no progress yet.”
The face-to-face conversation would come amid an ongoing FBI investigation into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russian officials during last year's U.S. election. U.S. intelligence officials have said that Russian operatives stole emails and other documents from leading Democrats and released them publicly to embarrass Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and help Trump.
Trump has denied that he and his top campaign aides colluded with Russian operatives.
Gary Cohn, Trump's chief economic adviser, said the White House expected the meeting to be a formal bilateral one rather than an informal “pull-aside” conversation. Trump will meet with several other world leaders similarly, officials said, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Theresa May and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
“Our relationship with Russia is no different than any other country,” McMaster said. He said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who visited Moscow in April and met with Putin, has played a leading role in the bilateral relationship.
“We’re engaged in wide-ranging discussions about irritants and problems in the relationship and areas to explore common interests and opportunities,” McMaster said.
McMaster said Trump instructed his national security team to do three things regarding Russia — confronting its “destabilizing behavior,” including cyberthreats and political subversion; deterring Moscow from a confrontation that could lead to “a major power war”; and fostering areas of cooperation, including on North Korea and Syria.
David Filipov in Moscow contributed to this report.