President Donald J Trump told reporters in a late-scheduled press conference at the NATO summit that he will again discuss Russian meddling in the U.S. 2016 election with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a July 16 bilateral meeting.
Trump and Putin are scheduled to meet on July 16 for a bilateral meeting in Helsinki, Finland.
During the Thursday morning late-scheduled Trump press conference at the NATO summit, the U.S. President was asked about his upcoming meeting with Putin.
“I think we go in to that meeting, not looking for so much. We want to find out about Syria,” said Trump.
“We will, of course, ask your favorite question about meddling. I will be asking that question again,” Trump told the reporters, speaking of charges of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. “But we’ll also be talking about other things.”
“We’ll be talking about Ukraine,” he said of the meeting with Putin. “Ukraine was here today by the way. And, ya know was very interesting to hear what they had to say.”
“He may deny it,” Trump said of questioning Putin on election meddling. “All I can do is ‘Did you?’ and ‘Don’t do it again.’”
“He may deny. You’ll be the first to know,” he told the reporter with a slight smile on his face.
He said it would be a “loose meeting,” there would not be a “big schedule” and it should not “take a very long period of time.”
“We’ll see where it leads,” said Trump. “It could lead to productive, something very productive, and maybe it’s not.”
“I am very concerned with the pipeline. I don’t like the pipeline,” the President said at one point during the press conference. President Trump was referring to the Russian gas pipeline to Germany that Germany has paid Russia for and now relies on as a source of energy.
Trump said he has not defined Putin as either friend or foe, but rather, “a competitor.” He added, “He’s representing Russia, I’m representing the United States.”
President Trump said he will also raise arms control issues, concerns about Russian violations of the INF treaty, perhaps the stopping of military exercises in the Baltic states, and many more issues.
Asked whether any NATO allies had expressed any concern about his summit with Putin or any messages they want Trump to take with him to the summit, Trump replied, “Just the opposite of concern.”
“They actually thanked me for meeting President Putin. I look forward to the meeting,” said Trump. “They thanked me. They thought it was a great thing that I was doing it and they gave us … their best wishes.”