US President Donald Trump will have a first face-to-face meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Germany next week on the sidelines of the G-20 leadership summit, the White House said today.
The agenda of the meeting is still being worked out, officials said, adding that Trump is planning to have bilateral meetings with a host of other world leaders on the sidelines of the G-20 summit.
"The President has asked us to work together across all departments and agencies to do, really, three things: to confront Russia's destabilising behaviour -- whether it's cyber threats, whether it's political subversion here in Europe and elsewhere," US National Security Advisor, Lt Gen H R McMaster told reporters at a White House news conference.
"The second is to deter Russia. Because nobody wants a major power war, right? So what is it that we have to put in place to be able to deter conflict. Then the third thing is to foster areas of cooperation," he said.
There are a lot of problems in the world that can be discussed during the meeting. North Korea, for example, is one of them; the fight against transnational terrorist organisations is another, said the US National Security Advisor.
In Germany, he said, Trump would hold bilateral meetings with other world leaders Germany, United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea, China, Mexico, Indonesia, and Singapore.
There could be more. In G-20, the primary objectives are to promote American prosperity, to protect American interests, and to provide American leadership.
"These three objectives tie together every engagement President Trump has with foreign leaders, whether here in the White House, as you saw with the strengthening of our strategic partnership with India during Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi's visit on Monday and we will see tonight and tomorrow with the strengthening of our alliance with South Korea during President Moon (Jae-in)'s visit," McMaster said.
"Additional objectives for the trip include, first, to strengthen American alliances," he said.
America First, he stressed, does not mean America alone.
Trump has demonstrated a commitment to American alliances because strong alliances further American security and American interests, he added.
These meetings with leaders of other countries are also aimed at developing a common approach to Russia.
"As the President has made clear, he'd like the United States and the entire West to develop a more constructive relationship with Russia. But he’s also made clear that we will do what is necessary to confront Russia's destabilising behaviour," McMaster said.
From a foreign policy perspective, Trump's goal will be to make clear, even to allies, that America cannot tolerate unfair trade and economic practices that disadvantage to its workers and industries.
"We're prepared to act where necessary, but we hope to resolve our differences in ways that benefit all sides and are based on really a drive toward reciprocal trade and economic relationships," McMaster said.
"We want to create robust, open and fair markets that drive economic growth and leave no countries hostage to energy-market manipulation. We are committed to the energy security of our allies and partners, and to the diversification of energy sources, supplies and routes," the National Security Advisor said.