President Donald Trump will demand Russian leader Vladimir Putin force Iran to pull out their military presence from Syria, an unnamed source told the Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat.
“If the Putin-Trump summit is held on July 15, its core will be to negotiate Washington’s insistence on Iran’s withdrawal from Syria,” a Western diplomat told the newspaper in anticipation of the meeting between the two men next month. Iran, alongside Russia, has been providing military assistance to Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian Arab Army in its civil war against the government rebels.
According to a senior diplomat, U.S. officials are convinced that Russia would be unwilling to “pay a heavy price” to keep Iran in Syria. He also said that Washington had given Israel the “green light” to carry out missile strikes on Iranian air bases in Syria.
The White House described the meeting, announced on Thursday, as an opportunity to “discuss relations between the United States and Russia and a range of national security issues,” as well as “the current state and prospects of further development of Russian-US relations and also vital issues of the international agenda.”
The Kremlin has since confirmed that preparations are underway for the meeting, with the Finnish capital of Helsinki as the chosen location.
“Probably, this location was more preferable for both sides in logistic terms,” Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov. “The meeting is highly anticipated by many, there will be a very serious conversation about very complex issues.”
“President Putin has said from the very beginning that Russia is interested and is ready to develop relations and embark on the path of normalizing relations with the US to the extent our American counterparts are ready to do so,” he continued.
While Trump and Putin have already met twice at events such as the G-20 summit, this meeting will be the first official one between solely between the two leaders. Their relationship has been subject to much speculation from the media, as Trump remains under investigation by the FBI for alleged collusion that occurred during the 2016 election with the Russian government.
The meeting was announced shortly after Trump’s national security advisor, John Bolton, visited Moscow to finalize details for the summit with Putin. According to the Kremlin, Bolton and senior Russian officials discussed the ongoing civil war in Syria, Russia’s annexing of Crimea peninsula, and the ongoing FIFA World Cup being hosted across Russia.