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Helsinki possible location for Trump-Putin summit: U.S. official

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their bilateral meeting at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Finnish capital of Helsinki is being considered as a location for a summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, a senior U.S. official said on Tuesday.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said over the weekend it was likely Trump would meet his Russian counterpart “in the not too distant future” following a visit to Moscow this week by White House national security adviser John Bolton.

The senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said while Helsinki was the likeliest choice, the final decision depended on the outcome of talks Bolton is having with the Russians.

The Austrian capital of Vienna had been also discussed as a potential site for the meeting, but officials said that idea has been abandoned.

Finland’s president, Sauli Niinistö, tweeted a brief statement in response to questions about the summit: ”Finland is always ready to offer its good services if asked.”

The highly anticipated Trump-Putin meeting is likely to take place after a July 11-12 NATO summit in Brussels that Trump is expected to attend. Trump is also expected to visit London for talks with British Prime Minister Theresa May on that trip.

Trump, who has said he wants better relations with Russia, last met Putin in November in Vietnam on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific summit.

A probe of Russia’s alleged involvement in the 2016 U.S. election has hung over Trump’s presidency. U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign colluded with Russia.

Moscow denies meddling in the U.S. election and Trump denies any collusion took place.

Reporting by Steve Holland; Additional reporting by Stine Buch Jacobsen in Denmark; Editing by Tim Ahmann, James Dalgleish and Frances Kerry