The White House confirmed that President Donald Trump will meet with him Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit next week in Germany. National security adviser H.R. McMaster said Thursday the high-stakes meeting with Putin is among several scheduled for when Trump is in Hamburg, Germany, next week.
McMaster and economic adviser Gary Cohn would not say whether Trump intends to address accusations that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, saying the agenda is “not finalized” for this or for any other meeting.
However, McMaster added that “USA’s relationship with Russia really isn’t different” from that with other countries, adding that Trump intends to address “irritants” as well as areas on which they can work together.
Allegations that Russia interfered in the U.S. presidential election last year and colluded with the Republican’s campaign have overshadowed the businessman’s unexpected victory and dogged his first five months in office, Reuters reports.
Russia and the United States are also at odds over Ukraine, NATO expansion and the civil war in Syria where Moscow supports President Bashar al-Assad.
The United States backs rebel groups trying to overthrow Assad, and Washington angered Russia by launching missile strikes against a Syrian government air base in April in response to what the United States says was a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of civilians.
Trump has frequently called for improvement of relations with Russia but lawmakers in his own Republican Party are urging him to be wary of Moscow.
“As the President has made clear, he’d like the United States and the entire West to develop a more constructive relationship with Russia but he has also made clear that we will do what is necessary to confront Russia’s destabilizing behavior,” McMaster said.
U.S. intelligence agencies say Russia hacked and leaked emails of Democratic Party political groups to help Trump win the 2016 U.S. presidential election against Democrat Hillary Clinton. Russia denies the allegations and Trump says his team did not collude with Moscow.