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U.S. and Russian presidents plan summit

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By Mark Armstrong
President Vladimir Putin meets John Bolton
President Vladimir Putin meets John Bolton

Moscow and Washington have reportedly agreed to hold a summit between President Trump and Vladimir Putin, according to Kremlin foreign policy aide Yuri Ushakov.

The news came after President Putin held talks with U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton in the Russian capital.

The conference would take place in a third country convenient to both leaders according to reports.

"It gives me great regret to state that Russian-US relations are not in their best shape," President Putin told reporters. "I said it several times publicly, and I will reiterate today once again - it is the result of acute internal political battles in the U.S. But your visit to Moscow gives us hope that we will be able to take first steps to restore fully-fledged relations between Russia and the US."

"Even in earlier days, when our countries had differences, our leaders and their advisors met and I think that was good for both countries, good for stability in the world, and president Trump feels very strongly on that subject," replied Bolton.

Such a summit is likely to irritate U.S. allies who want to isolate Putin, such as Britain or who are concerned about Trump's attitude towards Russia. It is also likely to go down badly among foreign and domestic critics who question Trump's commitment to NATO and fret over his desire to rebuild ties with Moscow even as Washington tightens sanctions.

Ushakov said Moscow and Washington would announce the time and place of the summit on Thursday. Further details have yet to be worked out, he added.

U.S. - Russian relations have been strained for years over disagreements about Syria, Russia's actions in Ukraine and its annexation of Crimea.

But the U.S. president is known to want to improve ties between the two nations and earlier this month he said Russia should be readmitted to the G7 group of industrialised nations.