WH: Trump 'Open To Visiting Moscow' Upon Putin's 'Formal Invitation'

Trump soccer ball

Grigory Dukor Reuters

President Trump is "open" to visiting Moscow if he receives a formal invitation from Russian President Vladimir Putin, the White House said Friday. The two leaders may not meet again one-on-one until next year.

The Republican leaders appear to be increasingly relying on public signals, rather than private phone calls or Oval Office chats, to catch the White House's attention and communicate with Trump - especially when they are at odds with the president's approach or policies.

Putin and Trump met in Helsinki last week at a summit, but Trump faced a storm of criticism back home for his handling of the meeting.

Separately, U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said he was considering the possibility of the first talks in years between the defense chiefs of the United States and Russian Federation.

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During the news conference where Putin gifted the soccer ball, Trump stunned observers - and prompted a rebuke from top Republicans in Congress - by declining to endorse the conclusions of the United States intelligence community that Russian Federation had interfered in the 2016 USA presidential election. "I told him about this", Putin said at a news conference at an worldwide summit in Johannesburg on Friday, referring to the possibility of a Trump visit to Moscow. He later said he had misspoken at the summit.

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District Judge Dana Sabraw, who issued the Thursday deadline to reunite all eligible families, called the progress "remarkable". Another 538 parents are in government custody and cleared for reunification but waiting on transportation for reunification.

Russian Federation is under punitive sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union and wants them lifted. "We need for the appropriate conditions to exist, to be created, including in our countries", Putin said according to the Reuters news agency.

Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, Mr Mattis said: "I am considering meeting with my counterpart, but there's been no decision". Trump has denied the allegations. He cited special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election meddling as the reason, using Trump's favorite term for the probe: "witch hunt".

On Friday afternoon, Trump will convene a National Security Council meeting devoted to the issue of election security.

The Kremlin did not immediately accepted Mr Trump's first offer.

During the morning press pool, Collins asked Trump if he felt "betrayed" by his former attorney, Michael Cohen, after it was revealed that Cohen recorded several meetings with the president, including one meeting in which he discussed a possible payment to a former Playboy model.

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