Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. (Photo: AP)

Austria Offers to Host Trump And Putin for Summit in Vienna

(Bloomberg) -- The Austrian government is encouraging President Donald Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin to hold a summit in their country, potentially echoing a historic Cold War meeting there between a newly elected President John F. Kennedy and the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.

Austria offered to host a meeting between the two leaders, a White House official said on Thursday. While Trump and Putin have previously discussed the possibility of a summit, the U.S. has nothing further to say on the idea, added the official, who was granted anonymity to discuss the matter.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed in April that Putin and Trump had talked about meeting in a number of potential locations, including the White House. Russia and the U.S. are in talks about a summit but there are no agreements yet, RIA Novosti reported Friday, citing an unidentified Russian diplomat. An Austrian government spokesman declined to comment.

Putin asked Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz to organize a summit when he met him in Vienna on Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. Speaking to Austrian public broadcaster ORF before the Vienna visit, Putin said he and Trump speak regularly by phone but have no immediate plans for a formal meeting.

“I think that the possibility of these meetings depends to a large extent on the internal political situation in the United States,” Putin said, according to the English translation of the interview provided by the Kremlin. “The congressional election campaign is getting under way and then there will be the next presidential election, and the president of the United States is coming under attack over various matters. I think this is the main reason.”

Russian efforts to disrupt the American presidential election in 2016 remain a source of tension between the two nations and has led to U.S. sanctions of several Russians close to Putin and his circle. The election meddling has also the focus of the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who has been looking into whether any Trump associates colluded in the Russian efforts.

Putin and Trump spoke briefly at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam last November, and had two encounters during the G-20 summit in Germany last July.

Kennedy and Khrushchev met at a historic summit in Vienna in 1961, shortly after the U.S.-backed invasion of Cuba’s Bay of Pigs and amid tensions between the superpowers over Berlin.

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