White House: Trump will confront Putin on 'malign' Kremlin activities

Mikhail Koninin  Flickr

Mikhail Koninin Flickr

The U.S. ambassador to Russia confirmed Thursday that President Donald Trump will have a one-on-one meeting with Russia President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland later this month.

Trump is slated to meet Putin in Helsinki on July 16.

This will be the first time the two have met for a formal summit.

Trump told reporters last week he would press Putin on election meddling and also discuss Syria and Ukraine during their meeting.

"The ball is really in Russia's court and the president will continue to hold Russian Federation responsible for its malign activity", Mr. Huntsman told reporters.

Mr. Putin is not expected to budge on key areas of conflict with the West, including the annexation of Crimea, support of separatist movements in eastern Ukraine and backing President Bashar Assad's regime in Syria.

"Everyone in our alliance has the same goal, and that is a strong deterrent; an alliance that is unified that can face any threats that any one of our 29 members might face", she said, listing "Russia and the malign activities of Russian Federation, the efforts of Russian Federation to divide our Democratic nations" and INF treaty violations as among those threats.

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"They're going, "Will President Trump be prepared?"

"The president's priority is to protect the American people and American interests, including those of our allies and partners", he said.

Huntsman also said Trump is pursuing the meeting in the interests of national security, to reduce tensions and lead to constructive engagement. "We're entering with our eyes wide open, but peace is always worth the effort".

Spanning both events is the biannual Farnborough air show in the United Kingdom, where defense companies and allied nations toggle between the welcome news of increased European defense spending and deeper cooperation against the Russian threat, and the conflicting messages sent from Washington over its commitments to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies and existing trade agreements.

"The president has determined that now is the time for direct communication between himself and president Putin and it is in the interests of the United States, the interests of Russian Federation and the interests of peace and security around the world", the official said.

Earlier this week, Trump said that he was planning to "talk to him [Putin] about everything", mentioning such issues as Syria, Ukraine and claims of Russian meddling in the U.S. election in 2016.

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