Putin and Trump to Meet for The First Time Amid Heightened Tensions Between Their Two Countries

Published July 5th, 2017 - 10:51 GMT

The two leaders have spoken by phone at least twice since Trump took office. (AFP)
The two leaders have spoken by phone at least twice since Trump took office. (AFP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin is to meet Donald Trump for the first time on Friday, both the Kremlin and the White House said Tuesday, confirming a long-anticipated meeting amid heightened tensions between the two countries.

The conflicts in Syria and Ukraine, terrorism and arms control are expected to be major topics during the meeting at the G20 summit in Hamburg, which was first announced by the Kremlin and later confirmed by the White House.

"We have agreed on the 7th [of July]," Putin's foreign policy adviser, Yury Ushakov, said in comments carried by the Interfax news agency.

A White House spokesman confirmed that the meeting will be held Friday afternoon, adding that it will be a normal bilateral meeting. The spokesman said said there would be no further comment on Tuesday, the United States' July 4 holiday.

Trump was spending the afternoon at Trump National Golf Club in Stering, Virginia, prior to hosting military families at a picnic on the White House lawn followed by fireworks. He is due to leave for Europe on Wednesday.

National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton said there is still no agenda for Putin and Trump's Friday meeting.

General HR McMaster, White House national security adviser, said Friday that Trump would emphasize "whatever the president wants to talk about."

The US and Russia have been at odds over Russia's annexation of Ukrainian territory and its support of the Syrian regime, with the US supporting anti-regime forces.

Tensions also have flared amid allegations of Russia's efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Trump had expressed personal respect for Putin as a leader during his presidential campaign and the Russian president was one of the first world leaders to congratulate Trump on winning the November election.

The two leaders have spoken by phone at least twice since Trump took office. They started laying the groundwork for their meeting in Hamburg during a call in February.

However, US-Russian relations have deteriorated in recent months, as an ongoing US investigation into Russian meddling in the US presidential election focuses on possible collusion between Trump's election campaign team and Russian officials.

Meanwhile, US frustration over Ukraine has also grown.

In June the US announced it had added 38 people and companies to a sanctions list prompted by Russia's incursion in Ukraine. The move came as Trump met Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko for talks at the White House.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said the sanctions brought into question recent assurances that Washington wanted to work with the Kremlin on key international issues.

Ryabkov also cancelled a meeting with US Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Shannon in response to the sanctions, but Shannon met Monday with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in Washington and the two diplomats discussed rescheduling the meeting.

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