Putin-Trump Paris meet in preparation for 11 November

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with US National Security Adviser John Bolton in the Kremlin Moscow, Russia, 23 October 2018. [Kremlin pool/EPA/EFE]

President Donald Trump said Tuesday (23 October) he “probably” will meet with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Paris on 11 November. Both Trump and Putin already are planning to be in the French capital that day to mark the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I.

“I think we probably will” meet, Trump told reporters in the Oval Office at the White House. “It hasn’t been set up yet. Probably will be.”

Trump’s comment came hours after his national security advisor, John Bolton, said in Moscow that Putin told him during a meeting Tuesday that he would like to continue having direct discussions with Trump, and suggested Paris for the venue.

Bolton said Trump would look forward to doing that.

The two leaders most recently met in Helsinki in July, where Trump seemed to back Putin’s claims that Russia had not tried to affect the outcome of the 2016 presidential election by means that included hacking into Democratic National Committee servers and stealing emails.

The Helsinki summit caused uproar among Republicans and Democrats in Congress who said it was not clear what agreements Trump reached with Putin in their two-hour meeting in which they were accompanied only by their interpreters.

Trump, Putin blame ‘forces in US’ for undermining Helsinki summit ‘success’

In separate statements on the same day (19 July), US President Donald Trump and his Russian colleague Vladimir Putin blamed forces within the United States for marring what they called the success of their first summit.

Bolton on Tuesday said he talked with Putin about Russian meddling in the election and why it was harmful.

Speaking in Moscow, Bolton said there was no evidence that the meddling – which Russia has denied – materially affected the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, but that it did create mistrust toward Russia.

Bolton told radio station Ekho Moskvy that election interference was “a major obstacle” to achieving agreement on issues where the two countries have a shared interest.

“The point I made to Russian colleagues today was that I didn’t think, whatever they had done in terms of meddling in the 2016 election, that they had any effect on it, but what they have had an effect in the United States is to sow enormous distrust of Russia,” he said, according to a transcript provided by the White House.

Bolton added that he told the Russians: “You shouldn’t meddle in our elections because you’re not advancing Russian interest”.

But certainly the issue of the highest importance is the future of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), a cornerstone of European defence for the last three decades. Trump wants to scrap INF because of alleged Russian breaches.

EU urges US, Russia talks to 'preserve' nuclear treaty

The European Commission on Monday (22 October) urged the United States and Russia to pursue talks to preserve a nuclear weapons treaty after President Donald Trump said Washington was withdrawing from the deal. 

The US administration is likely to put the accent on election meddling, because of the US midterm elections to be held on 6 November. All 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate will be contested. In addition, 39 state and territorial governorships as well as numerous other state and local elections will also be contested.

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