Washington (AFP) – US President Donald Trump is likely to meet Russian leader Vladimir Putin “in the not-too-distant future,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a US television interview, after Trump mooted a possible summit.
The White House announced on Thursday that National Security Advisor John Bolton will travel to Moscow next week to explore the idea of a meeting.
“I know Ambassador Bolton’s planning to travel to Moscow on Sunday or Monday. He’ll be meeting with his counterpart, and I think it’s likely that president Trump will be meeting with his counterpart in the not-too-distant future following that meeting,” Pompeo told MSNBC, according to a transcript released Saturday by the State Department.
“I don’t know what the president’s schedule is going to be,” Pompeo said in the Friday interview.
Speculation has been rife in Russian and Western media on the highly anticipated meeting, which they first discussed in March.
Such talks would be scrutinized because of the continuing probe by a US special counsel into Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.
Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion.
Bolton’s visit was announced almost two weeks after Trump said that Russia should be re-admitted to the G7 group of industralized democracies, from which it was suspended for its annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Trump is due to participate on July 11-12 in the NATO summit in Brussels before heading on to Britain to meet with Prime Minister Theresa May and Queen Elizabeth II.
Earlier this month, Putin said he was ready to meet his US counterpart as soon as Washington gave its approval, adding that Vienna could be a possible venue for such a summit.
Ties between Washington and Moscow have been strained by the Russia probe and Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal.
The last, brief meeting between Putin and Trump took place in November 2017 in Vietnam during an APEC leaders’ summit.