WASHINGTON – Despite US allegations that Russia ran a hacking campaign to influence the American presidential elections last year, Donald Trump’s first foreign trip as president is expected to be a visit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to reports.
In a move which is said to echo Ronald Reagan’s cold war deal-making meeting in Reykjavik with Mikhail Gorbachev in 1986, Trump and his team have reportedly told British officials that the summit will take place within weeks of Trump becoming president.
The Sunday Times reported late Saturday that Trump wants to discuss nuclear disarmament with Putin, citing sources who said Trump wants to meet Putin outside of Russia and that Reykjavik was a strong contender.
The Icelandic capital is thought to be the most likely place host the talks, as it did three decades ago.
The summit would be an attempt to rest reset western relations with the Kremlin, with the agenda for talks thought to include a deal limiting nuclear weapons.
However, incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer called the report “100 percent false” on Twitter.
— Sean Spicer (@seanspicer) January 15, 2017
The meeting had not been announced by Trump team officials or Russian officials, and reports say Iceland has not been formally contacted about such an event.
The news comes as Trump continues to face claims that Russia holds material which could be used to blackmail him.
Trump’s relationship with Putin has been the subject of controversy following U.S. intelligence reports that Russia interfered in the election to help the businessman.
Trump has asserted he won without the help of Russia, but has recently acknowledged he thinks they were behind hacks that targeted the Democratic National Committee.
On Saturday the president-elect said he would consider dropping sanctions against Russia if the Kremlin helped tackle terrorism and worked with the US on other key goals, although the sanctions would remain in place “at least for a period of time”.
He added that he was willing to meet Putin. “I understand that they [the Russians] would like to meet, and that’s absolutely fine with me,” he said.
Even as the incoming US administration denies Trump’s intention to meet Putin “very soon”, the president-elect will meet the Russian leader at some point, later this year.