President Donald Trump is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin at next week's G20 summit in Germany, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster confirmed Thursday, amid investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion between Trump's campaign and the country's officials.
"First of all, we should try to achieve normalization of dialogue, so that the dialogue is based on the fundamental interests of both Russia and the U.S.", the Russian foreign minister said. If the two men meet, it will be their first face-to-face encounter.
"I have no relationship with him", said Trump, later continuing, "He said something nice about me".
In testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Nicholas Burns, a retired career diplomat and State Department official under the George W. Bush administration, said Americans "deserved to know" how Russian officials were trying to influence the most recent presidential election. "As the president has made clear, he'd like the United States and the entire West to develop a more constructive relationship with Russian Federation, but he has also made clear that we will do what is necessary to confront Russia's destabilizing behavior", Reuters quotes McMaster as saying Thursday.
Tensions between Moscow and Washington have not gotten off to the greatest start in 2017, but Trump will seek a "more constructive" dynamic between the foreign powers, according to the White House.
Since Trump's inauguration, he and Putin have shared three phone calls. "No one has seen them in government-held areas".
"The two presidents will be in the same city, in the same building, at the same time", said foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, who met with Trump in the Oval Office earlier this year.
Lavrov noted it's traditional for world leaders to talk a bit when they are both at a major event like this, and it would "probably not be right" if they weren't able to have a talk on some important issues while they're there.
"I think, first, we need to normalize dialogue so that it would be based on the key interests of both Russian Federation and the United States", Lavrov said, according to the Tass state news agency.