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25 Jul, 2018 18:39

Trump delays 2nd Putin summit until 2019 over ‘Russia witch hunt’ – Bolton

Trump delays 2nd Putin summit until 2019 over ‘Russia witch hunt’ – Bolton

US President Donald Trump has decided to postpone the next meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin until sometime in 2019, after the ‘Russia witch hunt’ ends, National Security Adviser John Bolton said.

"The president believes that the next bilateral meeting with President Putin should take place after the Russia witch hunt is over, so we’ve agreed that it will be after the first of the year," Bolton said in a statement.

Following the summit in Helsinki, Finland last week, Trump asked Bolton to invite Putin to Washington “in the fall” of 2018. The US president tweeted that he was looking forward to the second meeting, so the two leaders could continue addressing the problems discussed in Helsinki, such as “stopping terrorism, security for Israel, nuclear proliferation, cyber attacks, trade, Ukraine, Middle East peace, North Korea and more.”

“There are many answers, some easy and some hard, to these problems... but they can ALL be solved!” Trump said on July 19.

Bolton’s announcement comes a day after the Kremlin confirmed receiving the invitation from the White House. Putin’s senior foreign policy adviser, Yuri Ushakov, told reporters that there was a need for another summit after last week’s meeting in Helsinki. The two leaders could also meet at the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina this November, Ushakov said.

Trump’s invitation to the Russian president was not well-received by the media and on Capitol Hill. Democrats responded with the usual rhetoric accusing Trump of being Putin’s puppet, but even the Republican majority leaders said they would not invite Putin to address Congress.

By contrast, a poll conducted by The Hill found that 54 percent of Americans support a second summit between the two leaders in Washington, and 61 percent say that better relations with Russia are in the best interests of the United States.

Trump has frequently used the phrase “witch hunt” to describe the probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who was appointed in May 2017 to investigate claims of Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.

After Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from investigating the Trump campaign on ethical grounds, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller. The appointment followed Trump’s dismissal of FBI Director Jim Comey on advice from Rosenstein himself.

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