Trump to meet Putin in G20 summit amid Russia's influence on US election saga
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and Donald Trump. Photograph: (Zee News Network)
Russia's President Vladimir Putin is set to meet his US counterpart Donald Trump for the first time in the sidelines of the G20 summit early next month.
The White House said Trump's main goal would be to end all differences between Russia and the West and "develop a common approach".
Trump's National Security Advisor HR McMaster, however, was non-committal as to whether Trump would bring up the matter of Russia's alleged involvement in last year's US election.
"It's whatever the president wants to talk about," McMaster said.
The G20 summit will be held in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7 and 8.
The duo's first meeting comes after the west initially were alarmed about the relationship between the two leaders, especially after a cascade of reports suggested that Russia had meddled in the US election to help Trump win.
Trump has long played down reports of Russian meddling, but he seized on recent reports about former president Barack Obama's cautious reaction to election interference last year to attack Obama for a timorous response.
The two superpowers also face an array of contentious foreign-policy issues, reaching from Syria to Ukraine to North Korea.
Trump has struck a tough tone on Russia's ally Syria, ordering a missile attack on a military base there in April after it reportedly was used to launch a chemical attack; and warning this week that the government of Bashar al-Assad would "pay a heavy price" if it carried out a new chemical attack.
Washington and Moscow engaged in a further verbal escalation after U.S. fighter jets shot down a Syrian government jet.
Trump's early warmth toward Putin -- and his blunt criticism of America's NATO allies for not spending enough on defense -- have rattled many in Europe, and particularly in places like Ukraine and the tiny Baltic countries.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko met with Trump at the White House on Tuesday in what he himself said was an attempt to "arm" the US president with information ahead of his meeting with Putin.
Russian troops seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, and Russia has supported separatist militias in a bloody fight along Ukraine's eastern border.
Trump and Putin agreed during a phone call in May to work together to defuse tensions with North Korea over its nuclear and missile programs.
It was during that call that the leaders agreed to seek a face-to-face meeting in Hamburg.
(With inputs from AFP)