President Donald Trump will meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin at next week’s G20 summit in Germany, the White House confirmed Thursday, likely sparking a new wave of speculation into whether Trump’s campaign had secret ties to Moscow.
According to national security adviser H.R. McMaster, the sit down with Putin is just one of several meetings with world leaders that Trump has scheduled while he is in Hamburg.
“There is no specific agenda,” McMaster confirmed. “It’s really going to be whatever the president wants to talk about.”
National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn added that Trump’s schedule was still in flux, noting that “agendas for meetings have not been set up.” The meeting will mark the first time that Trump has had a face-to-face encounter with his controversial Russian counterpart since Trump became president.
As for whether Trump would directly address allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, McMaster would not say, but he did claim that the president would tackle so-called “irritants” in the U.S.-Russia relationship.
“Our relationship with Russia is not really different than with any other country, in terms of us communicating to them what our concerns are, where we see problems with the relationship but also opportunities,” he said.
McMaster also pointed out that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would take on an important role in talks between the two leaders.
“[Tillerson] has been engaged in a broad, wide-range discussion about irritants, problems in the relationship but also to explore opportunities where we can work together, areas of common interest. So it won’t be different from our discussions with any other country,” he said.
The G20, or Group of 20, includes 19 individual countries and the European Union. Together, the member entities comprise roughly 80 percent of world trade and two-thirds of the world’s population.