Kremlin says idea of Putin-Trump meeting at G20 in Japan up in air

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Kremlin said on Tuesday that a U.S. idea for President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin to meet at a meeting of the G20 in Japan later this month was hanging in the air and that there were no discussions on specifics yet.

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Trump appeared to take the Kremlin by surprise last month when he said he planned to meet Putin at the G20 in Osaka, though Moscow was quick to say it was open to such a meeting and hoped it would happen.

Russia has long been keen to try to start rebuilding battered U.S.-Russia relations, which remain strained by everything from Syria to Ukraine and allegations of Russian interference in U.S. politics, which Moscow denies.

But the Kremlin has also made clear it is expecting to receive a formal proposal for such a meeting from the United States and has noted that the last planned session between Putin and Trump was canceled at Washington’s initiative.

Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov told reporters on Tuesday that the details of a G20 meeting between Putin and Trump had not yet been agreed or even discussed.

“The idea of a Putin-Trump meeting in Osaka within the framework of the G20 is hanging in the air,” said Ushakov.

“Having raised the idea, the American side has not elaborated and we have not yet discussed the specifics and important elements - that is, the time, place and agenda - via any channels.”

Ushakov complained that the signals the Kremlin was getting from the United States were unclear.

Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, said the Kremlin’s stance looked pathetic.

“While the U.S. is coercing China to agree to meet with Trump at the G20, the Kremlin is pleading for a Putin-Trump encounter in whatever format the U.S. would suggest,” he wrote on social media.

“It’s both humiliating and at best useless, if not counterproductive.”

Additional reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Writing by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Mark Heinrich