Kremlin: Bolton To Visit Russia For Talks On Possible Trump-Putin Meeting

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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter
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National security adviser John Bolton is planning a trip to Russia to discuss a potential meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian leader Vladimir Putin, according to the Kremlin.

The National Security Council has not announced any of Bolton’s travel plans with respect to Russia, but Putin spokesman Dimitry Peskov said Thursday that a trip to Moscow was in the works.

“As far as we know, such a trip will actually take place,” Peskov told reporters on a conference call, according to CNN. “This is all that we can say right now.”

Trump and Putin had talked about a possible meeting when they spoke on the phone in March, with Vienna as a potential site for the face-to-face talks, Peskov said earlier this month. More recently, U.S. media outlets have reported that the two leaders are planning to meet shortly before or after Trump’s trip to Britain and the NATO summit in mid-July. (RELATED: Report: Summit Between Trump And Putin In Planning Stages)

Since taking office, Trump has repeatedly said he would like to see Washington and Moscow develop warmer relations. That effort has been stalled in part because of Russia’s provocations abroad, including its alleged involvement in the poisoning of a former Russian double agent in Britain and chemical weapons attacks by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a close ally.

Washington has hit Moscow with additional sanctions on top of those already in place for Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine, and both government have expelled scores of each other’s diplomats.

Still, Trump has sought to keep open the possibility of rapprochement with Russia. At the G7 summit in Canada earlier this month, he said Russia should be allowed to rejoin the group of wealthy nations, breaking from the position of the bloc’s other leaders. Russia was expelled from the G8 in 2014 after it annexed the Crimean Peninsula.

Trump’s remarks on Russia have been criticized in light of the ongoing special counsel investigation into the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 election, including possible links to the Trump campaign. The president has also been accused of speaking more highly of Putin and Russia than of the NATO alliance, which he has blasted as outdated and overly dependent on Washington’s largesse.

“Trump’s plan to meet Putin immediately before or after the NATO summit is a slap in the face to the alliance, whose mission centers largely around deterring Russian aggression,” Ned Price, a National Security Council official during the Obama administration, said Wednesday on Twitter. “And that’s probably just as Trump intended.”

Price’s assessment is at odds with that of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who said Thursday that a Trump-Putin meeting “is not in any way contradicting NATO policies.”

“NATO is in favor of dialog, and if you want dialog, you have to speak to the political leaders,” he said in London, according to The Guardian.

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