Russian leader Vladimir Putin said on Friday he has invited President Trump to Moscow — and plans to visit Washington — as he praised their meetings as “useful.”
Putin told reporters at a summit in South Africa that he and Trump needed to meet in person — not chat over the phone — about issues like the Iran nuclear deal, Middle East conflicts and arms control treaties.
“Regarding our meetings, I understand very well what President Trump said. He has a desire to have further meetings, to hold further meetings. I am ready for that. We need for the appropriate conditions to exist, to be created, including in our countries,” Putin said at a press conference.
“We are ready for such meetings. We are ready to invite President Trump to Moscow. By all means. By the way, he has such an invitation, I told him about that.”
The White House said a formal invite has yet to come.
“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,” said press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
The Russian strongman said he was “ready to go to Washington” but only if “the right conditions for work are created.”
The invitation comes nearly two weeks after the two leaders sat down in Helsinki for a meeting in which Trump sided with Russia over the US intelligence community, suggesting the hostile foreign power didn’t meddle in the 2016 election despite enormous evidence to the contrary.
Trump’s comments sparked massive bipartisan backlash — which Putin shrugged off.
“Despite the difficulties, in this particular case difficulties linked to the internal political situation in the United States, life goes on and our contacts continue,” he said Friday.