MOSCOW— -- The Kremlin has reportedly said that Russian President Vladimir Putin will most likely meet with President Donald Trump at an economic summit in Vietnam later this week, and that both sides are discussing the timing.
“The relevant services are trying to choose the most suitable time and format,” Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters in a daily briefing call, Interfax reported.
Peskov said the “likelihood is great” that the two leaders will meet.
The meeting would take place at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit that starts Wednesday in Danang, Vietnam, and which Trump will attend as part of his 13-day Asia tour. Beginning the trip, Trump said he expected to meet with Putin and wanted to enlist him in resolving the North Korea nuclear crisis.
“We want Putin's help on North Korea,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One while flying to Japan Sunday.
Any meeting between Putin and Trump will attract intense attention, coming amid a run of recent developments in connection to the U.S. special counsel investigation of Russia’s involvement in the U.S. presidential elections, and the backdrop of the continuing crisis with North Korea.
Trump and Putin first met in July at a G-20 summit in Germany, where they spoke for two hours. Trump said he had directly confronted Putin over Russia’s meddling in the U.S. election. Both men expressed enthusiasm about the meeting afterward.
After a summer of exchanging fiery rhetoric with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, Trump has said putting an end to the standoff over the country’s nuclear arms testing is atop his agenda during the Asia trip.
On the tour so far, he has moderated his threats to the North, and in South Korea Wednesday called on it to "come to the table.”
Trump appears to view Russia as important in achieving that.
Though Moscow and Washington are opposed to North Korea's nuclear arms program, they haven't seen eye to eye on the issue. Russia supports North Korea’s denuclearizing and has signed onto the U.N. sanctions punishing it over them.
But Moscow has also sometimes presented itself as an ally of Pyongyang, and Putin has criticized the United States over its threats to North Korea, saying it is clear nothing short of negotiations will persuade it to give up its nuclear ambitions.
“The policy of putting pressure on Pyongyang to stop its nuclear missile program is misguided and futile," Putin wrote in an article published in September.
The issue should be “resolved by direct dialogue of all the parties concerned without any preconditions. Provocations, pressure and militarist and insulting rhetoric are a dead-end road," he added.
Putin has also said he opposes further sanctions, saying he believes there are no more to apply that will be effective. Earlier this year, the United States sanctioned four Russian companies accused of facilitating North Korea’s missile program.
In October, it was revealed that a telecom company affiliated with a Russian state firm had established a new internet connection for North Korea.
The connection supplements the only previously existing one provided by China and gives North Korea greater protection against potential cyberattacks from the United States, which is believed to have used attacks to trip up the North’s missile program.
Asked last week about the telecom firm and criticism that Russia is assisting North Korea, a spokeswoman for Russia’s foreign ministry, Maria Zakharova, said Russia was unapologetic about developing relations with Pyongyang.
“Russia is not violating any relevant UNSC [U.N. Security Council] resolutions. We have not applied additional sanctions in relation to North Korea,” she told ABC News.
“Our implementation of sanctions is unshakeable, but along with that we are also pursuing the development of relations with North Korea.”