Trump-Putin Helsinki July Meeting Focuses on Syria

Published June 30th, 2018 - 07:14 GMT
Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump will discuss Syria issues together amid July 16 summit in Helsinki . (AFP/ File Photo)
Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump will discuss Syria issues together amid July 16 summit in Helsinki . (AFP/ File Photo)
The Syrian conflict will take center stage during the much anticipated summit between US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in July.

The Kremlin announced on Friday that the two leaders will hold detailed discussions on Syria during their July 16 summit in Helsinki.

"There's no doubt about the fact that Syria will be discussed in depth," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a call with reporters. "A thoroughly exhaustive discussion awaits."

"We're looking forward to it. If we could all get along, it would be great. The world has to start getting along," Trump said during a visit to Wisconsin on Thursday. The day before, he said they would discuss Syria, Ukraine and "many other subjects."

Other contentious issues are also likely to come up in the meeting, which will mark the third time the two presidents meet but their first official summit.

Trump could raise the issue of Russia's alleged meddling in the US elections in 2016, a claim made by US intelligence agencies that led the United States to impose tough sanctions on Russia in April.

Previously, sanctions had been imposed during the administration of President Barack Obama in response to Russia's annexation of Crimea and its involvement in the conflict in Ukraine.

"If (the issue of election meddling) will be raised by the US president, then the Russian president will repeat that Russia could not and did not have anything to do with this situation, around which such insinuations are unfurled," Peskov said.

Peskov also said Putin was ready to move towards normalizing ties with the United States in proportion to US willingness to do the same.

After Trump and Putin met briefly in Vietnam in November 2017, Trump was criticized in the United States for saying he believed Putin when the Russian president denied Russian meddling.

The upcoming Helsinki summit has been criticized by members of the opposing Democratic Party who described it as a gift to the Kremlin and expressed concerns over what else Trump might give away.

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said it was best not to get too excited about what the summit might yield.

"In general, I'd recommend everyone not to use phrases like 'breakthroughs' and such like," the RIA news agency quoted her as saying. "I suggest taking quite a pragmatic and realistic view of these meetings."

Trump's relationship with Putin has long been the source of intrigue, both at home and in world capitals. He has repeatedly praised his peer while straining ties with many of the United States' closest allies.

The timing of Trump's meeting with Putin will likely do little to ease concerns across Europe. 

It comes at the end of Trump's week-long trip to Europe, which begins in Belgium at NATO, an intergovernmental military alliance between 29 North American and European countries that has countering possible Russian aggression at its heart. 

At a NATO summit last year, Trump scolded leaders for the cost of the gleaming new Brussels headquarters and for not paying enough to support NATO's defense.

From Brussels, Trump will make his first visit as president to the United Kingdom where he will meet with Prime Minister Theresa May.

Finland, which tries to maintain friendly ties with its huge eastern neighbor, has been a favored location for US-Russian and Soviet summits since Cold War times.

It was the site of a 1975 meeting between President Gerald Ford and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and hosted a summit between President George H.W. Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990. In 1997, President Bill Clinton met his Russian counterpart Boris Yeltsin in Helsinki.
This article has been adapted from its original source.

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