Trump to meet Putin at G-20 summit

Trump to meet Putin at G-20 summit
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President Trump plans to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin next week at the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, their first face-to-face encounter since Trump’s inauguration in January. 

National security adviser H.R. McMaster told reporters Thursday the two leaders plan to meet. A spokesperson for Putin previously said the meeting would take place on the sidelines of the summit.

“There is no specific agenda. It’s really going to be whatever the president wants to talk about,” McMaster said. 

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National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn said Trump’s schedule in Hamburg is still being finalized and that “agendas for meetings have not been set up.” 

The sit-down comes amid a swirl of controversy surrounding Trump’s posture toward Moscow.

The president is facing a special counsel investigation into whether his associates colluded with the Kremlin’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

The probe has angered Trump, who has not said definitively whether he accepts the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia was behind the election-meddling campaign. 

Asked by reporters on multiple occasions whether Trump would bring up Russian interference, McMaster refused to say.

The top aide said that Trump would address "irritants" in the relationship as well as potential areas of cooperation.

"Our relationship with Russia is not really different than with any other country," he said. 

Trump irked the national security establishment in Washington with his routine praise for Putin during the campaign. He spoke about brokering a deal with Putin to form a closer U.S.-Russia relationship. 

Many in his own party have urged Trump to take a tougher line against Moscow for its military intervention in Ukraine and its support for Syrian President Bashar Assad. 

As president, Trump has confronted Russian interests in the Middle East, raising concerns about a broader conflict erupting in the region. 

He launched a cruise missile at a Syrian military installation in April in response to a chemical weapons attack the U.S. and others blamed on Assad. The move sparked a tense diplomatic situation with the Kremlin. 

He has also sought to bolster U.S. ties with Saudi Arabia and other Arab states and used tough rhetoric against their adversary, Iran, a Russian ally in the region. 

Trump also has meetings scheduled with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, among others. 

This story was updated at 1:56 p.m.