Kremlin says Putin and Trump likely to meet in Vietnam

Russian President Vladimir Putin listens during their meeting in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. Putin chairs a meeting with government officials. The meeting focused on arms trade. (Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump have a full agenda for their likely encounter on the sidelines of a Pacific nations’ summit this week, the Kremlin said Wednesday.

Putin’s foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov, said the Russian leader will meet Trump during sessions of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders’ meeting that opens Friday in Danang, Vietnam.

Ushakov said the U.S. and Russian leaders may also have an “extensive” one-on-one meeting, although a specific time has not been set.

“There are things to discuss and we are ready for it,” Ushakov said, adding that the agenda would include the Syrian war, the standoff over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, and a crisis in bilateral ties.

Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russian and U.S. officials are trying to carve out a time slot for Trump and Putin to meet separately. The probability for a face-to-face meeting of the two presidents is “quite high,” Peskov said.

He said Putin discussed preparations for the summit with members of the presidential Security Council on Wednesday.

Moscow’s hopes for an improvement of Russia-U.S. relations under Trump have been scuttled by the ongoing investigations into alleged collusion between Trump campaign officials and Russia.

Trump and Putin first met in July at the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. Since then, dealings between the two countries have become more strained, with Congress imposing new sanctions on Russia, Moscow capping the number of U.S. diplomatic personnel in Russia, and the closure of Russian diplomatic offices by the U.S.

Putin has blamed Trump’s political foes in the U.S. for preventing him from fulfilling his campaign promise to forge a better relationship and said Russia remains open to cooperating with Washington.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov struck a similar note, saying Wednesday in Vietnam that the effort to improve bilateral ties fell victim to U.S. political infighting.

“We may reach agreements, but regrettably they immediately become an element of internal political fighting, internal political games aimed to make President Trump’s life and activities as difficult as possible,” Lavrov said in televised remarks.

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