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Trump Pitched Putin White House Visit During Most Recent Phone Call

Both the Trump administration and Kremlin confirm a U.S. visit was discussed last month

President Donald Trump chats with Russia's President Vladimir Putin as they attend the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting, part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' summit in the central Vietnamese city of Danang on Nov. 11, 2017. (Photo: Mikhail Klimentyev/AFP/Getty Images)

Though it occured before last month's "tit-for-tat" announcements that Russian diplomats would be expelled from U.S. and vice versa, both the Kremlin and the Trump administration on Monday confirmed that Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Donald Trump discussed the possibility of an in-person meeting, with Trump reportedly putting forward the idea of a White House summit.

Russian presidential aide Yury Ushakov told reporters in Moscow on Monday that Trump initiated the idea of a White House meeting, saying, "During a telephone conversation between our presidents, Trump suggested that the first meeting could be held in Washington."

Ushakov, according to the TASS news agency, said that since the call took place on March 20, no specific plans have come together.

"After the conversation," he said, "which was constructive and business-like and touched upon many issues, there was another breakdown in our bilateral relations, 60 diplomats were expelled, our consulate was closed and Russia had to give a tit-for-tat response to that."

Given the recent fallout between the two nations—that stems mostly from the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in the U.K. last month—Ushakov said it would "be difficult to discuss a summit" at this point, but added that the Russian government's position is that a Trump-Putin meeting "would be rather important and beneficial for both countries, as well as for the entire global community." 

Though she did not eloborate with any details, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed in a statement that such a meeting was discussed on the call and that the White House was put forth as a possible location.

"As the President himself confirmed on 20 March, hours after his last call with President Putin, the two had discussed a bilateral meeting in the 'not-too-distant future' at a number of potential venues, including the White House," Huckabee Sanders said in the statement. "We have nothing further to add at this time."

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