BLOG

Update:

  • TRUMP-PUTIN MEETING ANNOUNCEMENT WILL COME THURSDAY: BOLTON
  • PUTIN, TRUMP BOTH CONSIDER MEETING `IMPORTANT,' BOLTON SAYS

The United States and Russia have reached an agreement on a summit between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin and will announce the date and other details on Thursday, reports Bloomberg, citing a senior Kremlin official.

U.S. officials have said the meeting -- the third between the two men -- could take place at the end of Trump’s visit to Europe in mid-July. Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said his Nordic nation is ready to host the summit after Politico reported that the White House is eyeing Helsinki as the preferred option. Bolton discussed details of the planning at a working lunch with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov before he met Putin. -Bloomberg

Earlier in the day, Putin hosted US National Security Adviser John Bolton for a pre-summit discussion that lasted around two hours. The two reportely talked about nuclear arms control, conflicts in Syria and Ukraine, the situation in North Korea and the Iran nuclear deal, according to Russian officials. 

The discussions come amid the worst US-Russia tensions since the Cold War, which deteriorated after the annexation of Crimea and worsened as the spectre of Russian hacking dominated the 2016 election and beyond. 

Trump has pushed for improved relations with the Kremlin - inviting Putin to the White House during a March phone call, while Putin appears to be very open to the prospect of a stronger bond. 

“Your visit to Moscow gives us hope that we can make at least the first steps toward restoring full-scale relations between our countries,” Putin told Bolton at the beginning of their discussion.

“It’s great to be back in Moscow,” Bolton replied, adding that he hoped to discover “how to improve Russia-U.S. relations, find the areas where we can agree.”

During his meeting with Bolton, Putin reiterated his past denials of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, while also conveying several messages "exclusively for Trump." 

Bolton, who took on the National Security Adviser role in March, is a longtime Kremlin critic and notorious hawk. Following Trump's meeting with Putin at last year's G20 meeting, Bolton wrote that "it should be a highly salutary lesson about the character of Russia’s leadership to watch Putin lie to him," and warned Trump: "negotiate with today's Russia at your peril." 

All that has changed, and Bolton is on best behavior: 

But in the Kremlin Wednesday, his message was different. “Even in earlier days when our countries had differences, our leaders and their advisers met and I think it was good for both countries, good for stability in the world and President Trump feels very strongly on that subject,” he told Putin.

Bolton also said he hoped to hear from the Russian leader on “how you handled the World Cup so successfully,” drawing a broad smile from Putin, who has made the soccer championship now underway in Russia a personal priority. The U.S. will co-host the 2026 tournament. -Bloomberg

Known for keeping world leaders waiting for hours, Putin arrived for Wednesday's meeting uncharacteristically on time, telling Bolton "I hope we will be able to speak today about what might make both sides restore full-scale relations based on equality and respect for each other."

The Russian president wants to reverse the downward spiral in US-Russia relations following the 2014 Crimea annexation, as well as move beyond the election meddling controversy. 

Bolton will hold a press conference at Noon EST.