- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday he and President Trump work well together battling international terrorism and “regularly” speak by phone.

But Mr. Putin added that a formal summit between the two leaders was not soon likely.

Mr. Putin made the statement while discussing Russian-U.S. relations during an interview with Austrian public TV broadcaster ORF before a visit to Vienna. The Vienna trip is his first to an European Union country since his re-election earlier this year.

While Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin have met in person twice — once in Germany at a formal bilateral meeting and once in Vietnam on the sidelines of a leaders’ summit — they have not yet had a one-on-one summit.

In April, the White House confirmed that they had spoken by phone and discussed the possibility of meeting at the White House “in the ‘not-too-distant-future’”.

Asked on Tuesday about the status of such a gathering, Mr. Putin said he saw no immediate plans for it and blamed domestic American politics.

“I think that the possibility of these meetings depends to a large extent on the internal political situation in the United States,” Mr. Putin was quoted as saying by CNN. “The congressional election campaign is getting underway and then there will be the next presidential election, and the president of the United States is coming under attack over various matters. I think this is the main reason.”

According to Reuters, Mr. Putin on Monday also blamed “fierce domestic” U.S. politics for keeping the two leaders from meeting.

As for conversing with Mr. Trump, Mr. Putin, according to the official transcript the Kremlin released online, said: “Indeed, Donald Trump and I have, firstly, met more than once at various international venues and secondly, we regularly talk over the phone.”

He added that the leaders had shared concerns over a new arms race between the nations.

“I fully agree with him [Trump] — however, to prevent a possible arms [race], we should think about it, we should do something about it, give corresponding instructions to our Foreign Ministry and the US State Department,” he added.

Mr. Putin was visiting Austria, an old Russian ally, to discuss sanctions that several Western countries have imposed on Moscow for aggression in Ukraine, its role in the Syrian conflict and the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in England earlier this year.

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