President Donald Trump says he expects to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin during his trip to Asia, as questions over ties between his campaign and the Russian government continue to intensify.
“I think it’s expected that we’ll meet with Putin, yes,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One as he flew from Honolulu to Tokyo. “We want Putin’s help on North Korea and we’ll be meeting with a lot of different leaders.”
The meeting, expected to be on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam, would be the second between the world leaders. It comes after Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty last week to lying to the FBI about his attempts to organize a meeting between campaign staff and Russian officials.
The talks between Putin and Trump also come as critics of the U.S. president accuse the White House of slow-walking new sanctions against Russia imposed by Congress, which wanted to signal its displeasure with Russian interference in the 2016 election. This week top U.S. technology companies, including Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc., and Google Inc. disclosed that Russia had distributed mass propaganda over their social media networks during the election.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said Friday that a meeting between the two leaders was being discussed.
“It is hard to overestimate the importance and significance of any contact between the president of Russia and the United States for all international matters,” Peskov said.
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