President Donald Trump reportedly invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit the U.S. and come to the White House during a phone call last month, and the U.S. President also said he would visit Moscow, a Russian official said on Friday, Reuters reported.
The New York Times earlier in April had reported that “Trump mentioned to reporters on the day of the phone call that he expected to ‘be seeing President Putin in the not-too-distant future,’ and the White House confirmed on Monday that it was among “a number of potential venues” discussed.”
Also, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders had “confirmed that a White House meeting was discussed but played down the prospect,” the Times reported.
News agencies most recently cited Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying Trump invited Putin during their phone call on March 20, during which Trump congratulated Putin on his re-election.
Russian news agency Sputnik posted a transcript of the interview with Lavrov that has been cited. Sputnik is founded by Rossiya Segodnya, a Russian state-sponsored news agency.
“We proceed from the fact that the U.S. president in a telephone conversation… made such an invitation, said he would be glad to see (Putin) in the White House, would then be glad to meet on a reciprocal visit,” Lavrov reportedly said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says that, during a recent phone call with Putin, Trump said that he would be happy to make a visit to Russia. https://t.co/3VIbkUn8C8
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) April 20, 2018
“He returned to this topic a couple of times, so we let our American colleagues know that we do not want to impose, but we also do not want to be impolite, and that considering that President Trump made this proposal, we proceed from the position that he will make it concrete,” Lavrov continued.
“I would simply turn your attention to the fact that Donald Trump after this phone conversation has said several times in both Tweets and in words that it is necessary to resolve issues with Russia, we want to have good relations with Russia, this is better than not having good relations, and that only a fool thinks otherwise,” Lavrov added. “We also hear this.”
Lavrov also said Friday that the Presidents of the U.S. and Russia won’t allow their countries to enter into an armed military conflict, the Russian foreign minister said this week during an interview.
“Speaking about risks of a military confrontation, I am 100 percent sure that [both the U.S. and Russian] militaries won’t allow this, and of course neither will President [Vladimir] Putin or President [Donald] Trump,” he said.
“After all they are leaders, elected by their people and are responsible for their peace,” Lavrov added.
The U.S.-Russia relationship is on ice after the past few weeks.
Following a deadly chemical attack in Syria that reportedly has killed at least 40 people and affected dozens of other adults and children, President Trump tweeted that Russia should get ready because missiles will be coming “nice and new and ‘smart.’” He also chastised Russia for partnering with a “gas killing animal,” referring to Syrian President Bashar Assad.
“Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!’ You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it,” Trump tweeted.
The tweet came after Russia threatened the U.S. that it will attack the United States over a potential airstrike after Syria attacked its own citizens with chemical gas weapons.
Russia said reports of chemical weapons attacks were untrue and “bogus,” despite monitoring watch groups describing the horror on the ground – including children and adults foaming at the mouth. Russia said the attack was “staged” by the U.K., which Britain denied and said was a “blatant lie.”
Russia then aggressively threatened the United States if it were to fire any missiles at Syria in response to the chemical gas attacks.
Then, this past Wednesday, a Russian official said the country’s response to recent U.S. sanctions would be “precise and painful.”
Valentina Matvienko, the speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament said: “Russia’s response to the sanctions, our so-called counter-sanctions, will be precise, painful, and without question sensitive for exactly those countries that imposed them (the sanctions) on Russia.”
“Sanctions are a double-edged sword and those who impose them should understand that sanctions against countries, especially those like Russia, will carry with them risks of serious consequences for those who impose them,” Matvienko added.
Earlier this month, the Trump Administration issued fresh sanctions against nearly 40 top Russian business leaders, officials and companies for their destabilizing activities. One official said the Russian government is “reckless and irresponsible.”
Five entities and 19 individuals – including the 13 indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller as part of his Russia investigation – were targeted, including members of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s faction: billionaire Oleg Deripaska, Putin adviser Suleiman Kerimov and Kirill Shamalov, Putin’s son-in-law.
Other sanctions were issued in March against Russia for interfering in elections and for continuing cyberattacks.
When the latest sanctions were released in response to Putin’s “malign activities,” warnings rang out from Moscow about retaliation.
One retaliatory possibility is that Russians may ban or restrict imports of U.S. goods and services, ranging from medicines to software and rocket engines.
Unless Russia provokes the U.S., no further sanctions are expected, a senior U.S. administration official said on Monday.
Also this month, the U.S. said it is concerned that Russia may have tampered with evidence of the suspected chemical gas attack in Syria prior to investigators reaching the area.
The United States also accused Russia of blocking chemical weapons experts from visiting the site, despite having U.N. clearance to do so.
And, Russia is reportedly now “jamming” U.S. military drones that are flying over Syria; officials said American military operations are being affected because of it.