Trump open to Moscow visit – if Putin invites him
The US leader spoke amid reports that his Russian counterpart wanted him to visit Moscow.
The White House said US president Donald Trump is “open to visiting Moscow” once he receives a “formal invitation” from Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Mr Trump “looks forward to having President Putin to Washington after the first of the year” and “is open to visiting Moscow upon receiving a formal invitation”.
Mr Trump had initially invited his Russian counterpart to Washington this autumn for a follow-up meeting to their Helsinki summit, but national security adviser John Bolton changed the timeline this week, saying Mr Trump now believes it should take place “after the Russia witch hunt is over” and “after the first of the year”.
Mr Bolton was referring to the federal investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and whether Mr Trump’s campaign assisted or was aware of the efforts.
Mr Trump has repeatedly denounced the investigation as a “witch hunt” intended to delegitimise his presidency.
Mr Putin said on Friday: “I understand very well what President Trump said: He has the wish to conduct further meetings. I am ready for this.
“We are ready to invite President Trump to Moscow,” he added, according to the state news agency RIA-Novosti.
“By the way, he has such an invitation, I told him of this.
“I am prepared to go to Washington, but, I repeat, if the appropriate conditions for work are created,” the Russian leader said
Mr Trump has been widely criticised for failing to strongly denounce Russia’s election interference and appearing to accept Mr Putin’s denials during their joint press conference in Helsinki.
The US leader has since tried to walk back at least some of his comments.