Two weeks after President Trump congratulated Russian President Vladimir Putin on his latest electoral triumph (defying his national security staff in the process), Agence France Presse and Bloomberg reported Monday that the president has invited Putin to a summit at the White House.
The Kremlin made the announcement just days after Russia decided to expel 60 US diplomats and close a US consulate in St. Petersburg in a tit-for-tat retaliation for US expulsions.
AFP via the Kremlin: President Trump has proposed White House summit to Putin— Michael Del Moro (@MikeDelMoro) April 2, 2018
The White House hasn't said anything about plans for a summit. President Trump left things vague when he first raised the possibility of a formal meeting between the two leaders - a declaration that outraged Trump's critics. Such a meeting will only serve to embarrass and infuriate Special Counsel Robert Mueller, particularly now that the "Russia" branch of his Russia probe has seemingly resulted in a dead end.
Kremlin foreign policy aide Yuri Ushakov told reporters at a Moscow briefing that Trump had extended the invitation. However, he clarified that the two leaders haven't had a chance to start "constructive" talks because of the fallout from the Skripal poisoning.
The Kremlin said it hopes the US has stopped its aggressive tactics against Russia. Bloomberg pointed out that Putin plans to discuss the Iran deal (to which Russia is a signatory) during a meeting with the Iranian president later this week. The meeting will occur at a summit hosted by Turkey, where Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will discuss issues related to the increasingly fraught situation in Syria. In its talks with Iran, Russia said it's seeking to "preserve the effectiveness of the joint comprehensive action plan."
The Kremlin also said Putin has no plans to meet with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un - unlike Trump, who is expected to meet with the North Korean leader as soon as May.
Trump and Putin have met on several occasions at large conferences abroad.