United States' President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands at the beginning of a meeting at the Presidential Palace at Helsinki, Finland in 2018 - Photo: AP

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – The United States (US) President Donald Trump will meet his counterpart Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Group of 20 (G20) Summit in Osaka, Japan, AP reported on Wednesday (06/26). The two leaders talks come amid bitter differences between Washington and Moscow on various issues.

Putin has said he welcomes the dialogue and is ready to sit down for talks. Wednesday’ statement by his foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov, marked the official Kremlin confirmation of the two presidents’ meeting this Friday.

Ushakov revealed that the meeting is set to last about an hour, though it will be up to the presidents to decide. He added that the talks are expected to touch on arms control issues and international crises, including the Iranian nuclear deal, Syria, North Korea, and Ukraine.

“Russia and the United States can work together efficiently on the basis of equality and mutual respect,” said the adviser, adding that the Kremlin “stands for developing Russia – US relationship in a constructive and businesslike way.

The US – Russia ties have sunk to their lowest level since the Cold War over the crisis in Ukraine, the war in Syria and Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.

Putin has denied that Russia has meddled in the vote to help Trump win, even though US special counsel Robert Mueller has uncovered extensive evidence to the contrary.

Soviet Union leader and Trump have met on the sidelines of several international meetings, most recently at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires last fall. They also had a full-fledged summit in Helsinki, Finland last July, after which Trump had faced fierce criticism at home for accepting Putin’ denial of meddling in the US vote.

New rounds of anti-Russia sanctions followed the Helsinki meeting, and Trump has announced the withdrawal from a key arms control pact signed in 1987 with the then Soviet Union. Putin followed suit. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty is set to terminate this summer, raising fears of a new arms race.

Another major nuclear pact — the New Start treaty that entered force in 2012 — is set to expire in 2021 unless Moscow and Washington negotiate an extension.

Ushakov said that both arms treaties are expected to be on the agenda of Friday’s meeting. While, Fyodor Lukyanov, the chairman of the Council for Foreign and Defense Policies, an influential group of Russian foreign policy experts, said that the past meetings of the two presidents have fueled more infighting in the US and further clouded ties between Moscow and Washington.

“All that has led to nothing and the US has shown an utter lack of respect” that has made Kremlin realize that a rapprochement is elusive, Lukyanov said.

He continued: “Making a bargain with Trump is a myth. Trump acts in a tough environment that makes any serious deals unlikely.”

However, the Trump administration has been trying to win Russia over as a partner on the world stage and peel it away from its ally Iran.

Recently, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Putin in May and said afterward they had made progress on Syria, Afghanistan, and North Korea. National Security Adviser John Bolton had a series of meetings this week in Israel with his Israeli and Russian counterparts on the way forward in Syria.

But after their meeting on Tuesday, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev made clear message Russia stand by Iran, saying the US drone the Iranian military shot did was in its airspace and supporting the country’s military presence in neighboring Syria.

Patrushev told media on Wednesday that Russia would not bend to US wishes. Washington, he said, begins to understand the futility of its counterproductive demands that the communist country should change its independent policy and follow the approaches unilaterally promoted by the US on the international arena.

Written by Lexy Nantu, Email: lexy@theinsiderstories.com