(ABC News) — President Donald Trump is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin at next week’s G20 summit in Germany, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster confirmed Thursday, amid investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and the country’s officials.
The president raised eyebrows for heaping praise on Putin during the campaign, but denied having a “relationship” with the Russian leader.
On Monday, a spokesperson for the Kremlin said that Russia was ready to attend a full-scale meeting — the first since Trump has taken office — in addition to any interactions the pair would have at the summit.
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In November 2013, Trump said on MSNBC that he did have “a relationship” with Putin, whom he claimed sent him “a present” when he attended the Miss Universe pageant in 2013, that he “got to know [Putin] very well” when they both appeared — in separate segments — on an episode of “60 Minutes” and that they had communicated “directly and indirectly.”
Trump later walked back the idea of a relationship with Putin in a 2016 interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos.
“I have no relationship to — with him. I have no relationship with him,” said Trump, later continuing, “He said something nice about me. This has been going on. We did 60 Minutes together. By the way, not together-together, meaning he was probably shot in Moscow… and I was shot in New York.”
“I have never spoken to him on the phone,” added Trump.
Since Trump’s inauguration, he and Putin have shared three phone calls.
The meeting comes amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Russia over the situations in Ukraine and Syria, and with Trump casting new scrutiny on his predecessor, President Barack Obama, for not doing enough to counter Russian election meddling.
When asked whether the president would bring up Russia’s interference in the election with Putin at their meeting, McMaster said there is “no specific agenda” yet, and that Trump will address what he chooses.