The Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin and his U.S. counterpart may meet in private during their summit in Helsinki later this month.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on July 3 that if both sides agree, Putin and Donald Trump could meet one-on-one without their aides before the start of the official meeting in the Finnish capital on July 16.
Putin "feels absolutely comfortable in all formats that are comfortable for his interlocutors," Peskov said, adding that the Kremlin "doesn't rule out" a private meeting between the two presidents.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also discussed preparations for the upcoming summit with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, according to statements from the two sides. The conflict in Syria and negotiations to reduce nuclear tensions with North Korea were on the agenda.
Relations between Moscow and Washington have sunk to a post-Cold War low over issues including Russia's seizure of Crimea in March 2014, its role in wars in Syria and eastern Ukraine, and its meddling into the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Peskov said on July 2 that the Russian president was open to searching for compromises with Trump on "all" issues except the status of Ukraine's Crimea region, which Moscow claims is part of Russia.
U.S. officials have given conflicting signals as to whether Trump will raise with Putin the question of Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Putin ordered a hacking-and-propaganda effort aimed at swaying U.S. voters, but Trump has repeatedly questioned that assessment.