QINGDAO, China - Russian President Vladimir Putin said Sunday that he’s happy to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump once Washington is ready to hold the summit and welcomed Trump’s call to bring Moscow back into the G-7 group of leading industrialized nations.
Speaking to reporters in Qingdao, China, Putin said that some nations, including Austria, have offered to host his summit with Trump, should they have one.
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“The U.S. president has repeatedly said that it’s reasonable to hold such a meeting,” Putin said on the sidelines of a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. “As soon as the U.S. side is ready, the meeting will take place, depending, of course, on my working schedule.”
Putin said he shares Trump’s expression of concern about a renewed arms race expressed in a March phone call.
“I can confirm that President Trump voiced concern about a new round of arms race in our latest call,” Putin said. “I fully agree with him,” he said, adding that personal meetings and work by experts are needed to tackle the issue.
Putin’s remarks follow a report that White House officials were working toward setting up a meeting. Trump has said he was open to having a summit with Putin, who U.S. intelligence officials have said directed Russian meddling in the 2016 election to help Trump win.
The American leader has repeatedly said he wants to improve relationships with Moscow.
Putin also welcomed Trump’s statement that Russia should be invited to rejoin the group that was called the G-8 before others expelled Russia.
“It wasn’t us who left,” he said. “Colleagues refused to come to Russia on well-known grounds.”
“We will be ready to greet them all in Moscow,” he added.