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Putin-Trump Summit Set For Helsinki On July 16


Bolton Dismisses 'Criticism' Of Planned Trump-Putin Meeting
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The first summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin will be held on July 16 in Helsinki, the Kremlin and the White House have said in synchronized announcements.

"The two leaders will discuss relations between the United States and Russia and a range of national security issues," the White House said in a statement on June 28.

Putin and Trump will discuss U.S.-Russia relations as well as international issues, the Kremlin said, according to Russian news agencies.

Ahead of the announcement, Trump repeated Russian denials of interference in the 2016 U.S. election, tweeting, "Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election!"

Trump had told reporters in Washington on June 27 that the meeting likely would take place after a July 11-12 summit of NATO leaders he is due to attend.

He said the two would discuss Ukraine, Syria, and "many other subjects" at their first-ever such meeting.

Trump’s brief comments to reporters on June 27 in Washington came after U.S. national security adviser John Bolton told a news conference in Moscow that the White House and Kremlin would make simultaneous announcements on June 28 to specify when and where the meeting would be held.

"I've said it from Day 1, getting along with Russia and with China and with everybody is a very good thing," Trump said. "It's good for the world, it's good for us, it's good for everybody."

U.S. President Donald Trump (right) and Russian President Vladimir Putin talk on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg in July 2017.
U.S. President Donald Trump (right) and Russian President Vladimir Putin talk on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg in July 2017.

Earlier on July 27, Bolton told a news conference after holding talks with Putin that Trump will raise a "full range of issues" with Russia's leader, including alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, something Moscow has denied, and the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

Bolton told the news conference that "both President Trump and President Putin feel that it is important for these two leaders of these critically important countries to get together and discuss their mutual problems and areas of cooperation."

"It is something that both feel will contribute to the U.S.-Russia bilateral relationship and civility around the world," he added.

Before meeting with Bolton, Putin said he regretted that ties between the former Cold War foes were "not in the best shape" and suggested their dire state was due in large part to what he called "the internal political struggle" in the United States -- indicating he does not blame Trump for the disagreements.

Speaking to reporters in Brussels, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on June 28 welcomed the upcoming summit between Putin and Trump, saying, "It's absolutely, totally in line with NATO policies to talk to Russia, to meet with Russian leaders."

"For me, dialogue is not a sign of weakness. Dialogue is a sign of strength," he added.

However, the planned meeting is likely to worry some U.S. allies and draw criticism from Trump's opponents at home, including most vehemently from many Democrats, who have accused Trump of having colluded with Moscow to interfere in the 2016 presidential election to support his candidacy against that of rival Hillary Clinton.

"I don't think it's anything unusual for President Trump and President Putin to meet. If you just look meetings in the past year, the leaders of the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Greece, Finland, Austria, Belgium, and Italy have all had bilateral meetings with President Putin," Bolton said.

"President Trump felt, and I think President Putin agreed, now is the time for the two of them to get together," Bolton said, adding that he believed the accusations of election meddling will be a "subject of conversation" between Trump and Putin.

In a sometimes contentious news conference, a Western reporter reminded Bolton that before joining the U.S. administration, he had called Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election a "true act of war."

Bolton did not answer directly, saying only that he would not address what he had written in the past. "Right now, I'm an adviser to President Trump," he said, and it is his agenda that is important.

On Ukraine, when asked whether Trump would recognize Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region, Bolton responded by saying, "That is not the position of the United States."

He added that the United States believed that sanctions placed on Russia for its seizure of Crimea and its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine should stay in place.

He did say, however, that it was possible Trump and Putin would discuss the U.S. president's remarks that Russia should be allowed back in to the Group of Seven (G7) leading industrial countries, as he suggested last month in Canada.

Russia was expelled from the grouping, known then as the G8, for its interference in Ukraine and its annexation of Crimea.

With reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters
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