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Trump Wants to Delay Putin Meeting Until ‘After the Russia Witch Hunt’

By Mark Landler

The White House said on Wednesday that President Trump wants to delay a planned follow-up meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia until after the investigation of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, is concluded — which the White House predicted would be next year.

“The president believes that the next bilateral meeting with President Putin should take place after the Russia witch hunt is over, so we’ve agreed that it will be after the first of the year,” Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, John R. Bolton, said in a statement.

Last week, Mr. Trump unexpectedly said he would invite Mr. Putin to Washington in the fall — a move that some interpreted as a show of defiance by Mr. Trump after a storm of criticism over his meeting with Mr. Putin in Helsinki, Finland.

Mr. Trump directed Mr. Bolton to deliver the invitation. But the Kremlin had not yet accepted the invitation, raising questions about whether Mr. Putin was interested.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday in Moscow, Yuri Ushakov, a Kremlin aide, acknowledged receiving the invitation but declined to say whether Mr. Putin would visit Washington this year. Mr. Ushakov said that the leaders had not discussed the future meeting while in Helsinki, but that Mr. Bolton had later conveyed the invitation to Russian officials.

Mr. Ushakov said Russian and American officials had reached “an understanding that a meeting must take place,” but that “practical aspects will be discussed later.” He said that Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin would, in any case, have an opportunity to meet at a Group of 20 gathering in November in Argentina, and that “maybe there will be other international events which Trump and Putin will take part in.”

Courtesy: The New York Times