This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
U.S. President Donald Trump says he will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the Group of 20 (G20) summit in Japan later this month, although the Kremlin says it has not received confirmation from Washington of a potential meeting.
“I’ll be meeting with Putin at the G20,” Trump told reporters at the White House on June 12.
The comments represent the latest confusion over a potential meeting between the two leaders. Trump last month said he would meet with the Russian leader at the G20, but the Kremlin at the time indicated there had been no agreement on a face-to-face meeting.
Trump last met with Putin in a one-on-one setting in Helsinki in July 2018, when they dismissed top aides for a two-hour session. The meeting without U.S. aides or note-takers broke with traditional policy and was sharply criticized by Trump opponents.
Responding to a question from a reporter, Trump said it was “probably easier if we have people in the room, because you people don’t trust anything.”
Meanwhile, Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, told state-run TASS news agency that “the Kremlin has no such confirmations” about a face-to-face meeting at the summit, scheduled for June 28-29 in Osaka,
“Nothing has changed in this regard. The American side has not initiated the holding of a separate meeting,” he said.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying he believes the two leaders will meet in Japan but that no agreement had been set.
“There has been no clarity on these aspects, but we still believe that contacts will take place as our seniors, both the presidents and the ministers, are attending this event, but nothing has been clarified and regulated in terms of the format, the length and the specific time frame of them,” he said.
“To date, there have been no clear agreements on full-scale meetings,” Ryabkov said.
Trump has made it clear that he is seeking better relations with Russia and Putin specifically.
After the summit in Helsinki, Trump faced fierce criticism from U.S. lawmakers — including some Republicans — who said he failed to hold Putin accountable for Russian actions, such as what U.S intelligence agencies said was a campaign of interference in the 2016 U.S. election.