Russia’s foreign minister said Friday that during a recent phone call, President Donald Trump offered to visit his counterpart Vladimir Putin in Russia.
It was reported earlier this month that Trump had invited the Russian president to the White House, but Sergei Lavrov revealed that a reciprocal trip was part of the discussion.
Putin is ‘ready for a meeting,’ Lavrov told the state-run news service RIA Novosti.
‘During a phone conversation, which has already been revealed to the public, the U.S. president extended this invitation and said that he’d be glad to welcome him in the White House – and to meet with him during a return visit,’ he said.
The White House did not respond to inquiries about Lavrov’s claim.
But he underscored that ‘President Trump made this proposal,’ adding that ‘we assume that he’ll make it more specific’ in the future.
Come on over, Donald: President Trump offered during a March 20 phone call to visit Vladimir Putin in Russia, according to the nation’s foreign minister
Not so fast: Trump claimed this week that no one has been tougher on Russia than he has
Since the March 20 leader-to-leader phone call, however, the Trump administration has expelled 60 Russian diplomats in retaliation for a nerve-gas poisoning attack on a former Russian spy.
And the already frosty rapport between Washington and Moscow has iced over in the wake of a chemical weapons attack in Syria that Putin’s government has blamed the United Kingdom for ‘staging.’
Trump said Wednesday during a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe that ‘there has been nobody tougher on Russia than President Donald Trump.’
He complained Friday on Twitter that the OPEC oil cartel has been keeping crude prices ‘artificially Very High,’ a veiled attempt to signal economic leverage over Russia.
The oil-and-gas sector accounts for roughly 16 per cent of Russia’s GDP and more than half of all revenues that go toward its federal budget.
Trump last Visited Moscow in 2013 when his Miss Universe pageant was held there
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov revealed Friday that Trump told Putin that if he were to come to the U.S., he would make a ‘return visit’ afterward
Lavrov also said on Friday that Moscow welcomed an expected summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un, the despotic 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.’
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 U.S.-North Korea contact in almost two decades.
President Trump was seen wearing glasses on his way to the golf course in Palm Beach, Florida on Friday morning
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 Trump administration earlier this year accused Russia of helping Pyongyang evade some international sanctions by supplying fuel to the isolated country.