Vladimir Putin ‘invited for White House meeting’ with Donald Trump
The invitation was extended before a row erupted following the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the UK.
President Donald Trump invited Vladimir Putin to the White House when they spoke by telephone last month, according to an aide to the Russian president, but the two countries have not started any preparations for such a visit.
Mr Trump and Mr Putin had a telephone conversation on March 20 in which Mr Trump congratulated Mr Putin on winning the Russian presidential election two days earlier.
The White House and the Kremlin said at the time the two presidents discussed meeting in person.
Mr Trump specifically invited Mr Putin to the White House during the call, Putin aide Yuri Ushakov told Russian news agencies on Monday.
However, their governments did not have time to start arranging a meeting before the United States joined Britain and more than two dozen allies in sanctioning Russia over the nerve-agent poisoning of a Russian ex-spy in the UK, Mr Ushakov 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 Sarah Huckabee Sanders
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed that Mr Trump invited Mr Putin to Washington during the call, but said the White House was among “a number of potential venues” the two leaders discussed for a bilateral meeting.
“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,” Ms Sanders said, adding that the administration had no further comment on the matter.
Some Republican politicians criticised Mr Trump for making the congratulatory call to Mr Putin.
Mr Trump defended his decision on Twitter, saying President Barack Obama did the same in 2012.
During the call, Mr Trump did not raise Russia’s meddling in US elections or its suspected involvement in the poisoning of the former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain.