Russian President Vladimir Putin is “ready for a meeting” with his U.S. counterpart Donald J. Trump, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday.
Moscow’s chief diplomat added that such a summit was not currently being discussed but the Kremlin hopes that a meeting at the White House would materialise.
“President Putin is ready for such a meeting,” Lavrov said in an interview with state news agency RIA Novosti. “We are proceeding from the fact that the U.S. president in a telephone conversation — that was made public, there is no secret about this — sent such an invitation and said that he would be happy to see (Putin) in the White House and then to meet him during a reciprocal visit.”
“Since Trump suggested this, we proceed from the fact that he will make this concrete,” he added.
Trump proposed a White House summit when he called Putin last month, prior to the mass expulsion of Russian diplomats from the U.S. The proposal has not moved forward since relations between the US and Russia deteriorated further over an alleged chemical attack in Syria.
During the interview, Lavrov also said Moscow welcomed an expected summit between Trump and Kim Jong-Un, the leader of nuclear-armed North Korea.
“We cannot wish this meeting failure,” he said. “This would be a step away from the prospect of a military crisis and a military solution to the problem that is the Korean peninsula.”
“We very much hope that he (Trump) starts the process of de-escalating tensions,” he added.
The odds of the Trump-Kim summit taking place were boosted by the shock news earlier this week that CIA chief Mike Pompeo had gone to Pyongyang to meet Kim for the most significant US-North Korea contact in almost two decades.
Lavrov compared the U.S. and North Korean statements prior to the meeting to tensions between “boxers” before a match.
“Before the start of serious conversations it is like boxers entering the ring, showing off in front of one another before the fight,” he said.
Russia has relatively warm ties with North Korea, with which it shares a small land border.
The United States earlier this year accused Russia of helping Pyongyang evade some international sanctions by supplying fuel to the isolated country.