“A number of potential venues, including the White House” are under consideration, press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement Monday, adding that the White House has “nothing further to add at this time.”
Sanders confirmation that a White House invite is under consideration for the Russia president comes at a time of heightened tensions between the two countries and in response to reports that a Kremlin aide had told Russian reporters on Monday that Trump had directly proposed the idea of a face-to-face at the White House during a March 20th phone call between the two leaders.
Trump had previously said that he would “probably get together in the not-too-distant future” with Putin to “discuss the arms race” following that call. But White House had not publicly floated that the White House was under consideration for the eventual meeting, with Sanders saying at the time that there were “are no specific plans made at this time.”
Sanders confirmed that a White House meeting was a possibility on Monday only after a Kremlin aide broke the news.
"When our presidents we talking on the telephone, Trump proposed to hold a first meeting in Washington, in the White House,” Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov had said earlier Monday, according to the Russian news outlet, RBC, calling the possibility “quite an interesting and positive idea.”
The potential meeting between the two leaders comes after the United States expelled 60 Russian intelligence officers from U.S. soil in response to the nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy on United Kingdom soil, an action which Russia retaliated against by declaring it would also expel 60 US diplomats from Russia. Trump has faced criticism for not raising the issue of the attack during the same call with Putin in which he floated the idea of a White House meeting.
In response to Russia’s retaliatory expulsions, Sanders said Russia’s action “marks a further deterioration in the United States-Russia relationship.”
ABC News’ Patrick Reevell contributed to this report.