Russia's top diplomats to meet after Putin-Trump summit: Russian foreign minister

US congressmen meet Russian officials in St. Petersburg

President Donald Trump will drill down on Russia's "malign activity" during summits with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies and President Vladimir Putin, U.S. officials said on Thursday, signalling a harder line against Moscow than Trump has traditionally taken.

Briefing reporters ahead of the trip, Ambassador Jon Huntsman was asked what the president hoped to achieve by meeting yet again with the leader of a country US intelligence officials have concluded undermined USA democracy by meddling in the 2016 election to help Trump win, among a long list of hostile actions.

The Kremlin said Putin did not plan to meet USA lawmakers who are visiting Russian Federation this week. The upcoming and first one-on-one summit between the two leaders is expected revolve around major issues such as Trump's exit from the Iran deal, the warming in relations between the US and nuclear-armed North Korea, growing USA sanctions against Russian Federation and the seven-year war in Syria, where the US and Russian Federation are backing rival military campaigns.

The American leader will begin official preparations for the meeting with the President of the Russian Federation in the coming days.

Earlier in the day, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin and Trump could meet tete-a-tete without their aides before the broader official talks on July 16. In the case of Putin, Trump has already assessed their interpersonal ties up close, but wants more time to develop the leader-to-leader relationship, according to the person familiar with the summit's planning.

Moscow and Washington announced the summit date after Trump's National Security Advisor John Bolton met with Putin in Moscow last week.

Heading into the Helsinki summit, Trump's attacks on USA allies - which turned the G7 summit in Canada into a debacle - attempts to widen divides in the European Union and criticism of other institutions of the transatlantic alliance are playing directly into Putin's anti-Western goals.

For the second day in a row he stressed that the two powers do not necessarily need to be adversaries, but competitors like in sports or trade.

One Middle Eastern question that would occupy centre stage in the upcoming talks between Trump and Putin will be how to coordinate a joint effort to contain some Iranian policies in the region. "We will have to wait and see". Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall.

On the issue of arms control, the official said the United States intends to raise Russian violations of the INF arms treaty during the meeting and discuss the fate of arms control agreements between the two countries.

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