President Donald Trump has said he will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin at next month’s G20 summit in Osaka, Japan.
Trump announced the pair of meetings to reporters in the Oval office on Monday afternoon.
“I’ll be meeting with him directly, President Xi. Yes, I will be meeting with President Putin also,” he said.
Earlier that morning, Russian newspaper Kommersant reported that Washington had requested a meeting with Putin, and was awaiting the Kremlin’s response.
A Kremlin spokesman responded to Trump’s statement on Monday by saying no preparations were underway for such a meeting.
The meeting with Putin comes at a time of strained relations between Washington and Moscow. Although Trump and Putin discussed a range of geopolitical issues in an hour-long phone call less than two weeks ago, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov are expected to clash over the ongoing Venezuela crisis and Iran’s nuclear program when they meet in Sochi on Tuesday.
Pompeo and Lavrov will likely also discuss the US’ recent withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, and the US’ recent deployment of a carrier group to the Persian Gulf, under the auspices of countering what they claim is Iranian aggression.
Trump’s meeting with Xi will most likely focus on trade. In the latest escalation of the countries’ tit-for-tat trade war, China announced on Monday it would hike tariffs on $60 billion in American goods as high as 25 percent.
That move comes after the White House increased tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports from 10 percent to 25 percent last Friday.
Shortly before the meeting with Xi was announced, Trump took to Twitter to predict US tariffs forcing companies to leave China for cheaper locations like Vietnam, and press China to make a deal to end the trade dispute. “China should not retaliate,” he tweeted. “Will only get worse.”