President Donald Trump plans to focus on Syria during his meeting this week with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit.
Although an official outline for the discussion has not yet been released, administration officials say Trump will bring up the ongoing conflict and question Putin’s support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The meeting, set to take place on the sidelines in Hamburg, Germany, was confirmed last week by national security adviser H.R. McMaster.
Kremlin foreign policy aide Yuri Ushakov responded to reports of Trump’s intended focus Monday by calling the topic “reasonable.”
“I’ve heard the Americans want to raise the issues of terrorism and Syria,” he said. “It seems to me that would be pretty reasonable.”
Ushakov asserted that Putin intends to request that the United States return two diplomatic compounds seized as part of the Obama administration’s sanctions over alleged election meddling. The Kremlin aide, who also discussed the 35 expelled Russian diplomats, stated that such a move by the White House would save Russia “from the need to retaliate.”
“We have a lot of issues, which should be discussed at the highest level…” Ushakov added. “That’s why this meeting, this first personal contact, is so important.”
Relations between the two countries remain strained following the US missile strike against a Syrian airbase in April accused of facilitating a chemical weapons attack.
While the White House and Kremlin have signaled a desire for détente, conflicting agendas have thus far stalled such attempts.