Trump and US delegation to bring up election meddling with Putin

Trump congratulates Putin on winning re-election

President Donald Trump and his U.S. delegation intend to raise the issues of arms control, Ukraine, Syria and election meddling during their meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a senior administration told reporters Thursday.

The senior administration official stressed that while U.S. officials have “repeatedly” raised election meddling in meetings with Russian officials, “the fact of the matter is we have not had the kinds of conversations, direct conversations, across the table conversations about things like election meddling and malign activity that really do need to take place.”

On the issue of arms control, the official said the U.S. intends to raise Russian violations of the INF arms treaty during the meeting and discuss the fate of arms control agreements between the two countries.

“The president hopes that a meeting can help reduce tensions,” U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman told reporters on a briefing call set up by the White House. “You can’t solve problems if you’re not talking about them.

A senior administration official on the call confirmed CNN’s reporting that Trump will meet alone with Putin to kick off the first official summit between the two leaders and likened it to President Ronald Reagan’s summits with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

“The president has determined that now is the time for direct communication between himself and President Putin and that it is in the interest of the United States … and that’s the way he’s proceeding,” the official said.

While the senior administration official said the summit must focus on carrying out a “sober assessment of the root causes” of problems in the U.S.-Russia relationship, the official also called the summit “a deliverable in itself.”

“A change in atmosphere can change a whole lot else,” the official said. “I wouldn’t underplay at all the importance of actually sitting down for the first time in a meeting, summit environment.”