Trump's talk of possible Putin meeting caught advisers off guard: report

Trump's talk of possible Putin meeting caught advisers off guard: report
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White House officials were caught off guard on Tuesday when President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump threatens ex-intel official's clearance, citing comments on CNN Protesters topple Confederate monument on UNC campus Man wanted for threatening to shoot Trump spotted in Maryland MORE told reporters that he would "probably" meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin soon. 

Officials told The Washington Post that such a meeting had not been discussed prior to the president's statement. In fact, the two men were not even expected to be in the same country again until this November, when the Group of 20 Summit is set to take place in Argentina.

"We had a very good call," Trump told reporters on Tuesday. "We will probably be meeting in the not-too-distant future."

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The White House's official readout of the call with Putin said Trump had congratulated the Russian leader on his recent electoral victory. But it made no mention of the two discussing an upcoming meeting.

A readout of the call issued hours earlier by the Kremlin, however, said Trump had congratulated Putin and that "special attention was paid to making progress on the question of holding a possible meeting at the highest level."

The Post also reported Tuesday that in placing the congratulatory call to Putin, Trump disregarded the advice given to him in White House briefing materials that instructed him not to congratulate the Russian president.

The briefing materials also did not contain information about a meeting with Putin, the Post reported. 

That Trump was willing to go off script to discuss a potential meeting with Putin, who was elected to another six-year term on Sunday with 76 percent of the vote amid reports of ballot stuffing, is emblematic of his freewheeling approach to diplomacy and increasing level of comfort with ignoring his advisers.

Trump in his conversation with Putin on Tuesday did not raise the issue of Russian efforts to meddle in U.S. elections or the recent poisoning of a former Russian spy with a military-grade nerve agent on British soil, the White House said.

Instead, Trump and Putin discussed areas of "shared interest," the White House said, including Ukraine and North Korea.