Trump and Putin to Meet in Finnish Capital Helsinki on 16 July

Moscow and Washington will announce the time and place of the summit on Thursday, 28 June. 

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US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
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US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin will hold their first summit meeting on 16 July in the Finnish capital Helsinki to mend bilateral relations, the White House and the Kremlin announced on Thursday, 28 June.

The summit will take place four days after a NATO summit on 11 and 12 July in Brussels, Belgium, where Trump will meet leaders of US military allies. Trump plans to visit London to meet British Prime Minister Theresa May on 13 July.

The two leaders "will meet on 16 July, 2018, in Helsinki, Finland," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said.

"The two leaders will discuss relations between the United States and Russia and a range of national security issues," Sanders said in a statement.

In Moscow, the Kremlin press service said Putin and Trump will discuss “the current state and prospects of further development of Russian-US relations and also vital issues of the international agenda.”

Putin and Trump held their first talks on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Germany's Hamburg in July 2017. They had another opportunity to hold negotiations during the APEC summit in Vietnam in November 2017 but no full-fledged meeting took place.

The announcement of the date and venue of the summit follows a meeting between President Putin and US National Security Adviser John Bolton in Moscow on Wednesday.

Putin's adviser Yuri Ushakov had said the two leaders will meet in a third country.

The summit will include one-on-one talks between the presidents and conclude with a joint news conference, Ushakov said, adding that the two leaders are expected to issue a joint statement after their meeting.

Bolton Robustly Defends Summit

Bolton, a lifelong hawk who warned last year before his own appointment that Washington negotiated with Putin's Russia at its peril, robustly defended the summit. He said many European politicians had met the Russian leader.

A lot of the president’s critics have tried to make political capital out of theories and suppositions that have turned out to be completely erroneous. I think the president determined that despite the political noise in the United States that direct communication between him and President Putin was in the interests of the United States.
John Bolton

Trump congratulated Putin by phone in March after the Russian leader's landslide re-election victory.

Since then, already poor ties between Washington and Moscow have deteriorated over the conflict in Syria and the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain which sparked big diplomatic expulsions in both countries.

Expectations for a summit are therefore low, even though Trump said before he was elected that he wanted to improve battered US-Russia ties.

A special counsel in the United States has indicted Russian firms and individuals as part of a probe into possible collusion between Russia and Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. Trump denies wrongdoing and calls the investigation a "witch-hunt."

‘Russia Never Sought Confrontation’: Putin

Putin told Bolton on 27 June that US-Russia relations were not "in the best shape," something he put down to domestic political tussling in the United States.

But your visit to Moscow gives us hope that we can at least take the first steps to restore full-scale relations between our states. Russia never sought confrontation.
Vladimir Putin to John Bolton

Bolton told reporters he expected Moscow's meddling in US politics to be discussed at the summit. He said he did not rule out Trump discussing Russia rejoining the G7 to make it the G8 again.

Ushakov said the subject of US sanctions on Russia had not come up on Wednesday and named four main summit themes: strategic nuclear stability, the fight against international terrorism, regional issues like the Ukraine and Syria conflicts, and US-Russia ties.

The United States initially sanctioned Russia over its 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region and its backing for a pro-Russian uprising in eastern Ukraine. Subsequent sanctions have punished Moscow for what Washington has called its malign behaviour and meddling in US politics.

Bolton said he did not necessarily expect the summit to produce specific outcomes. "I don’t exclude that they will reach concrete agreements, but there are a lot of issues to talk about."

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