The Helsinki summit between Russian and American presidents in the middle of this month seems to be paying off with US Defence Secretary James Mattis (pictured) expressing interest in holding the first talks in years with his Russian counterpart Defence Minister Sergey Shoygu. Mattis is yet to decide on the meeting.
Shoygu last spoke on the phone with Mattis’ predecessor Ash Carter in 2015.
In another development, US National Security Advisor John Bolton is likely to meet Secretary of Russia’s Security Council Nikolay Patrushev by the end of summer. After taking charge, Bolton made a trip to Moscow late last month to prepare the ground for the Helsinki summit.
In the meantime, President Trump seems ready to visit Moscow if he receives a formal invitation from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
He also plans to invite Putin in the US next year, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.
Putin told reporters at a summit in South Africa on Friday that he is willing to meet Trump in Washington or Moscow, according to TASS.
The two leaders first met at a summit in Hamburg last year before the recent Helsinki summit.
Trump came under fire back home after he ignored FBI’s findings by accepting Putin’s strong denial of Russian role in influencing voters in the 2016 US presidential election in his favour.
Trump’s surprise move during the joint Helsinki press conference came after the US Department of Justice (DoJ), a day before the summit, played the spoiler by indicting 12 Russian agents for hacking into computers of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign and other entities to influence the election.
Russia dismissed the DoJ’s accusations as politically motivated ahead of mid-term congressional elections in November.