Trump plans to meet with Putin one-on-one, without aides

Blanche Robertson
July 6, 2018

The summint in Helsinki will be the first full-fledged meeting of the two leaders since Trump's taking office in January 2017.

A senior administration official on the call confirmed CNN's reporting that Trump will meet alone with Putin to kick off the first official summit between the two leaders and likened it to President Ronald Reagan's summits with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

Briefing reporters ahead of the trip, Ambassador Jon Huntsman was asked what the president hoped to achieve by meeting yet again with the leader of a country US intelligence officials have concluded undermined USA democracy by meddling in the 2016 election to help Trump win, among a long list of hostile actions.

"We're entering with our eyes wide open, but peace is always worth the effort", Huntsman said.

Following the summit, Trump will head to Britain, and on to Helsinki for a closely-watched face-to-face with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

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Huntsman said the president will bring up an array of malign activity in which Russian Federation has been engaged, including meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Just last week, he trumpeted a Putin talking point, tweeting: "Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election!"

He underlined issues concerning strategic balance and arms control, such as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, saying that they will be "prominent" on the agenda.

The prospect of Trump and Putin meeting alone has raised concern among members of the US national security community, some of whom have fretted that Putin, who has served as either president or prime minister since 2000, will use the meeting to gain leverage over the U.S.

"My guess is that that will be part of the discussion as well, but I don't want to get ahead of the possible summit conversations", Huntsman said.

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