WASHINGTON / JOHANNESBURG - President Donald Trump is open to visiting Moscow, the White House said on Friday after Russian President Vladimir Putin said he had invited the American leader.
Despite the uproar in Washington after the two met in Helsinki last week, Putin said another meeting with Trump was still on the agenda and that both leaders want additional summits.
"Regarding our meetings, I understand very well what President Trump said. He has a desire to have further meetings," Putin told reporters in South Africa, where he was attending a summit of BRICS nations: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
"I am ready for that," Putin said. "We need for the appropriate conditions to exist, to be created, including in our countries."
Following the backlash in the United States over Trump's cordial public tone with Putin at the Helsinki summit, U.S. and Russian officials backed away from Trump's proposal to schedule a follow-up meeting in Washington in the fall.
Two days after postponing that invitation, the White House made clear on Friday that Trump remained enthusiastic about another Russia summit.
"President Trump looks forward to having President Putin to Washington after the first of the year, and he is open to visiting Moscow upon receiving a formal invitation," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
The last time Trump was in the Russian capital was in 2013, to attend a Miss Universe beauty pageant. Referring to the proposal for a meeting in the United
States, Putin said: "I am ready to go to Washington. I repeat
once again, if the right conditions for work are created."
Putin said that, in the meantime, it was possible that he and Trump would meet on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Argentina in November or at another international event.