By Mohammed Tawfeeq, Samantha Beech and Angela Dewan, CNN
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Sunday he was ready for a face-to-face meeting with US President Donald Trump over the dangers of a new arms race.
Putin said Trump had called for such a meeting several times and expressed his concerns on the issue, including in their most recent phone call.
“I agree with him, and to have a meaningful discussion, our ministries of foreign affairs and experts should get involved and work closely together, and of course a meeting in person is necessary,” Putin told reporters at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit in Qingdao, China.
In April, the White House confirmed that Trump and Putin discussed the possibility of meeting at the White House “in the ‘not-too-distant-future'” during a phone call the previous month.
“As soon as the US side is ready, this meeting shall take place, of course, fitting my working schedule. We did not discuss a specific location but many countries offer their support, including Austria,” said Putin, who visited Austria earlier in the week.
Trump and Putin have spoken by phone eight times, according to readouts distributed by the White House. They have met in person twice — once at a formal bilateral meeting in Germany and once on the sidelines of a leaders’ summit in Vietnam.
Russian and US officials have openly boasted about their nuclear capabilities.
In March, Putin used a concept video of unlimited range nuclear warheads apparently raining down on Florida to tout his country’s new firepower. He also boasted a Russian missile-defense shield.
Trump has tweeted about his country’s nuclear capabilities several times. In April, he also warned Russia that it should “get ready” for a US missile strike on Syria, where Russia backs President Bashar al-Assad, in a tit-for-tat exchange. Russia had threatened to shoot down any US missiles fired at the country.
Putin’s comments that he was ready to meet Trump came just a day after the US President rattled G7 leaders at a summit in Canada, where he repeated his appeal to the group to allow Russia back in.
“I think it would be an asset to have Russia back in,” Trump said during an impromptu press conference at the summit.
“I think it would be good for the world. I think it would be good for Russia. I think it would be good the United States. I think it would be good for all of the countries of the current G7. I think the G8 would be better.”
The group of industrialized nations once included Russia and was known as the G8. But Russia was suspended from the group in 2014 after it annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine.