President Donald Trump will have his first in-person meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in July, Russian state media is reporting.
Such a meeting is hotly anticipated. Trump has had bilateral meetings with many heads of government so far, but not Putin. Trump's early administration has been dogged by lingering concerns regarding its relationship with Russia -- concerns only intensified following Tuesday's firing of FBI Director James Comey.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced the upcoming meeting between Trump and Putin following his meetings on Wednesday in Washington, TASS news agency reports.
The meeting will be part of the larger G-20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany. The U.S. administration has yet to confirm.
Trump said Wednesday he had a "very, very good meeting" with Lavrov at the White House.
Putin on Wednesday seemed to back Trump up, amid the furor over Comey, but denied any Russian interest in the matter, saying it will have "no effect" on relations between the two countries.
"We have nothing do with them," Putin told CBS News. "President Trump is acting in accordance with his competence and in accordance with his law and Constitution."
The Atlantic has previously reported how Moscow is pushing for a Trump-Putin in-person meeting as a means of setting the relationship with the new U.S. administration back on course-- Russia infers that Trump is someone who deeply values personal relationships.
Trump's April summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping spurred a reversal from previously hostile rhetoric from the new U.S. president, for instance. Trump has cooled on labeling China a currency manipulator, a campaign pledge, and has routinely noted Xi's high character and work on North Korea since the meeting.
Syria and Ukraine were major topics of discussion Wednesday between Trump, Lavrov and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and are poised to be major agenda items again in July, absent resolutions to those longstanding conflicts.
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