Trump to talk one-on-one with Putin to decide if Russia wants good relations with US – envoy
Donald Trump’s much anticipated meeting with Vladimir Putin on July 16 will be about determining if Moscow is really eager to restore relations with Washington, and its Western allies, the US ambassador to Russia said.
"The president believes a better relationship with Russia would be good for both America and Russia, but the ball really is in Russia's court and the president will continue to hold Russia accountable for its malign activity," Jon Huntsman said.
“We're entering [the talks with Russia] with our eyes wide open, but peace is always worth the effort," he added.
Trump and Putin will hold one-on-one talks in Finland’s capital, Helsinki, which will be followed by a meeting with advisers from both the US and Russia, the ambassador said.
Huntsman also said that, prior to his summit with Putin, the US president will discuss Russia’s activities at the summit of the NATO leaders on July 11 in Brussels.
An extension of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) for another five years may be on the agenda during the talks between Trump and Putin, a senior US administration official said, according to Reuters.
The START envisages the reduction of the number of the US and Russian strategic nuclear missile launchers by half.
The two leaders are likely to discuss arms control and strategic stability, including what Washington considers violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) by Moscow, he added.
In recent years, the US had repeatedly blamed Russia of developing long range missiles and other violations of the INF, but never provided facts to back the claims.
Putin said earlier this year that Washington’s unsubstantiated accusations of Russian violations were part of a PR campaign to create conditions for the US withdrawal from the landmark accord. “There is nothing good about it,” the Russian leader said of Washington's actions, confirming Moscow’s commitment to the INF deal.
President Putin, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and other Russian officials have, on many occasions, stated that Russia is interested in good relations with the US, which are based on mutual respect, adding that all issue between Moscow and Washington should be settled behind the negotiation table.
Earlier this week, Trump said that he was planning to “talk to him [Putin] about everything," mentioning such issues as Syria, Ukraine and claims of Russian meddling in the US election in 2016.
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