April 2 (UPI) — U.S. President Donald Trump has invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to the White House, the Kremlin said Monday.
Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov told reporters Trump suggested during a phone call they meet in Washington, D.C., but said an exact date was not discussed.
“We would like to believe that preparations for such a meeting will begin,” Ushakov said. “If everything goes well, I hope that the American side would not refuse its proposal to discuss the possibility of organizing the summit talks.”
Ushakov said some issues between the United States and Russia need to be resolved before any meeting.
Tensions between the countries have increased in recent weeks, particularly after the Trump administration condemned Moscow for the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal.
U.S. officials expelled 60 Russian diplomats as a result and ordered the Russian consulate in Seattle closed.
Russia answered by expelling 60 U.S. diplomats in a tit-for-tat retaliation.
The tensions also stem from the investigations into purported Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
“Since March 20 — the day when the telephone conversation took place — there have been no specific discussions of a possible meeting,” Ushakov said. “In the wake of the recent developments, it would be difficult to discuss a summit.”
Trump called to congratulate Putin on his election victory last month, and said he would soon meet with the Russian leader to discuss military weapons, Syria, Ukraine and North Korea.
“We will probably get together in the not-too-distant future,” Trump said.
White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah reaffirmed Monday that Putin and Trump had discussed the possibility of a meeting.
“As the President himself confirmed on March 20, hours after his last call with President Putin, the two had discussed a bilateral meeting in the ‘not-too-distant future’ at a number of potential venues, including the White House,” Shah said.