Russian President Vladimir Putin said a “fierce domestic political contest” in the U.S. is hindering a potential summit between himself and President Donald Trump.
“You have to ask our colleagues in the USA,” Putin told Austrian broadcaster ORF when asked why a potential meeting between Russia and the U.S. was taking so long to schedule, Reuters reported. “In my view it is the consequence of the fierce domestic political contest in the United States.”
— Reuters U.S. News (@ReutersUS) June 4, 2018
A senior administration official said on Friday that U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman was recently in Washington to discuss a meeting between Trump and Putin, The Wall Street Journal had reported.
Discussion of a potential meeting between Putin and Trump first began in March during a phone call.
“The two had discussed a bilateral meeting in the ‘not-too-distant future’ at a number of potential venues, including the White House,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in April.
The official said that the Trump Administration is currently focusing on the upcoming summit between Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
Ties between Russia and the U.S. have also worsened following the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain and the conflict in Syria.
Putin, who said earlier this year that Russia has nuclear weapons that are capable of evading defense systems, said that he and President Trump recently expressed concerns over a new nuclear arms race.
“In one of our last discussions, Donald said he is concerned about the danger of a new arms race. I agree with him entirely,” Putin said.
President Trump has also been vocal about the “witch hunt” he says is taking place under the guise of the Russia investigation into election hacking being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller.