By Vladimir Soldatkin and Polina Devitt
U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin plan to meet in Paris next month, officials said on Tuesday, their first encounter since a summit in Helsinki that unleashed a storm of criticism that Trump was cosying up to the Kremlin.
After a meeting in Moscow between Putin and Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton, officials on both sides said a preliminary agreement on a Nov. 11 meeting in the French capital had been reached, and that detailed arrangements were underway.
Both presidents plan to be in Paris for events to commemorate the centenary of the end of World War One, and they are planning to hold a bilateral meeting on the sidelines, according to Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov.
Bolton, speaking to reporters after his talks with Putin, said Trump would like to meet the Russian president in Paris and that precise arrangements were being worked on.
Putin and Trump have met several times on the sidelines of multilateral gatherings, but had their first bilateral summit in the Finnish capital in July.
Afterwards, Trump’s Democratic Party opponents, and some members of his own Republican Party, accused him of failing to stand up to Putin, especially over allegations that Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.
At a post-summit news conference alongside Putin, Trump questioned the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia had tried to influence the vote. Moscow denies any interference in the elections.
Republican Senator John McCain, who has since died, described the news conference at the time as “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory”.
“No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant,” McCain said.