The White House said Monday that a possible meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, as the two discussed in a phone call last month, could take place at the White House.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, responding to Russian media reports that Trump had extended an invitation to Putin, said, “As the president himself confirmed on March 20, hours after his last call with President Putin, the two had discussed a bilateral meeting in the ‘not-too-distant future’ at a number of potential venues, including the White House.”
“We have nothing further to add at this time,” Sanders added.
The Kremlin said Monday that Trump had invited Putin to the White House for a summit during the March phone call in which Trump congratulated the Russian president on his recent re-electionvictory, according to The Associated Press, citing remarks by a Putin aide to Russian news agencies. No date for the possible meeting was set, the Kremlin said, according to the AP.
Following that call — for which Trump was criticized for congratulating Putin — the president told reporters that he and the Russian leader had a “very good call” and would “probably get together in the not-too-distant future.”
A Putin aide, Yuri Ushakov, however, told Russian news agencies Monday that Trump had invited Putin to the White House during the call, according to the AP. Ushakov said that the U.S. and Russian governments didn’t have time to start arranging the meeting before the U.S. announced the expulsion of Russian diplomats, the AP reported.
Putin and Trump are not currently scheduled to see each other until November, at the G-20 summit in Argentina.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, however, told CNN that reports that Trump had invited Putin to the White House were not correct.
News of the possible invitation comes amid escalating tensions between the two superpowers.
Last week, Russia announced it would expel 60 American diplomats and close the U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg — a tit-for-tat reaction to the U.S. decision to order Russian diplomats out over the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy in Britain.
Earlier in the week, the U.S., the U.K., NATO and 25 other countries announced the expulsion of dozens of Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal in British that was allegedly orchestrated by the Kremlin.
The U.S-Russia expulsions — together, one of the largest since 1986 — threaten to uproot how the two countries have worked together in numerous delicate international situations, including the conflict in Syria and nuclear tensions on the Korean Peninsula.