Trump still wants to meet Putin, White House says, after new round of sanctions

Trump still wants to meet Putin, White House says, after new round of sanctions
Preparations for a meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin will not be affected by the new round of sanctions imposed on Russian government officials and businessmen, the White house has said.

"As the president has said, he wants to have a good relationship with Russia but that's going to depend on some of the actions by the Russians," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said at a news briefing.

When asked if the new round of anti-Russian sanctions meant that Trump’s planned meeting with Putin was now off the table, Sanders replied: “No, not at all. We’re going to continue working forward… to have a meeting with Vladimir Putin at some point,” she said.

Despite imposing a new round of punitive measures, Washington still hopes to maintain a dialogue with Moscow to work on regional security issues and other matters of mutual importance.

"This does not mean the United States is cutting off dialogue with Russia," a State Department spokesperson told Sputnik on Friday. "This administration has created a number of channels of communications with Russia on Ukraine, Syria, arms control, bilateral issues and other matters. We continue to seek positive outcomes on these issues."

The rhetoric towards Russia from the American officials has been increasingly harsh in recent months. The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, told students earlier on Friday that “Russia’s never going to be our friend.” Washington still works with Moscow “when we need to, and we slap them when we need to,” she explained.

Earlier on Friday, the US Treasury issued new Russia-related sanctions, adding 24 high-profile businessmen and politicians, as well as 14 companies to the existing blacklist. The US Treasury has accused Moscow of “a range of malign activity around the globe,” including its reunification with Crimea, involvement in the Ukrainian conflict, support of President Bashar Assad in Syria as well as “attempting to subvert Western democracies, and malicious cyber activities.”

READ MORE: 'Russia will never be our friend, we’ll slap them when needed' – US envoy to UN

On March 20, Trump congratulated Putin on his victory in the election and said that his Russian counterpart should meet with him in the not too distant future to discuss an arms race that was “out of control.” On Monday, Russian presidential aide Yury Ushakov said that the US leader has suggested Washington as the venue for the proposed talks.

Putin and Trump have so far met only twice: during the G20 summit in Germany last July and on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam in November.

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