Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia was “open to dialogue” with the US in a holiday message to President Donald Trump.
The message was included in a list of holiday greetings sent by Putin to heads of foreign states and governments that was released by the Kremlin Sunday.
“In a congratulatory message to President of the United States of America Donald Trump on the occasion of the Christmas and New Year holidays, Vladimir Putin emphasized that Russian-American relations are an essential factor in ensuring strategic stability and international security, and confirmed that Russia is open to dialogue with the United States on the widest possible agenda,” the Kremlin statement read.
The Kremlin said that former President George W. Bush was among the former heads of state to whom Putin had also sent a holiday message.
Putin previously expressed his willingness to meet with Trump during his regular year-end press conference December 20, but said then that he was unsure whether it would come about.
“I don’t know whether a meeting will happen,” Putin said. “On multiple occasions I’ve said I am willing to meet, we have a number of issues to discuss, including our bilateral agenda.”
Putin suggested that the pair’s ability to talk would be constrained when the Democrats take control of the US House of Representatives in January.
“Of course, now power in the Congress is changing and I’m sure that there will be more attacks on the President. Whether or not he will be able to have direct dialogue with Russia as a result of that, I don’t know,” he said.
Trump abruptly canceled a meeting with Putin in November two days before they were scheduled to sit down on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina.
The US President pinned the cancellation on Russia’s refusal to release Ukrainian Navy ships and sailors seized during a maritime confrontation between the two countries on November 25.
Ahead of the scheduled meeting, Trump’s aides had previewed a broad agenda, with national security adviser John Bolton telling reporters that Trump planned to discuss security, arms control and regional issues with Putin. He demurred when asked whether the heightened tensions in Ukraine would also arise.
He similarly did not say whether Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election would come up when the two leaders sat down to meet.