WASHINGTON: The White House has pushed to next year US President Donald Trump's planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a move that comes amid intensifying criticism of Trumps conflicting statements on Russian interference in US elections.
"The President believes that the next bilateral meeting with President Putin should take place after the Russia witch hunt is over, so we've agreed that it will be after the first of the year," national security adviser John Bolton said on Wednesday in a statement, referring to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, The Washington Post reported.
Trump has sharply criticised the investigation and has maintained that there was no coordination between Russia and his campaign.
Last week, the White House announced that Trump had asked Bolton to invite Putin to Washington in the fall for a follow-up meeting to their summit in Helsinki this month.
Trump has faced bipartisan pushback in Washington over what critics decry as his overly accommodating approach to Putin, who the US intelligence community determined personally ordered interference in the 2016 campaign aimed at helping the then-GOP nominee.
But Russia also did not immediately jump at the opportunity to schedule a second summit between the two leaders.
In Moscow, Kremlin foreign policy adviser Yuri Ushakov said on Tuesday that the Kremlin had received an invitation for a second summit from Bolton several days after the Helsinki meeting but that no preparations were in motion.