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Ball in US court for improving bilateral ties: Russian president

(News Desk) – President Vladimir Putin has expressed hope relations between Moscow and Washington would ameliorate but says the ball is in the United States’ court.

“I hope (an improvement in ties) also takes place. At any rate, we are ready for it. I think the ball is in the Americans’ court,” Putin was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency on Saturday.

Putin’s remarks come at a time of heightened tensions between Moscow and Washington.

Relations between Washington and Moscow have been sour in recent years over a range of issues, including the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea and its rejoining Russia, foreign-sponsored militancy in Syria, allegations of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 US presidential election and the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain.

However, Putin and his American counterpart Donald Trump are scheduled to hold a meeting in the near future.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Saturday that the Austrian capital, Vienna, was one of the cities being considered as the venue for a possible summit between Putin and Trump.

A White House official also said on Thursday that Austria offered to host a meeting between the two presidents.

Last month, Putin said the proposed summit was not working out for now and was beset by problems.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed in April that Putin and Trump had talked about potential locations of their summit, including the White House.

If it takes place, the summit would be the third between Trump and Putin. They met before on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in the German city of Hamburg last July. The two met again during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Vietnam in November.

Trump, who has long been seeking better relations with Russia, has extended an invitation to Putin during a phone call in March, when he congratulated the Russian president on his victory.

After he spoke to Putin on the phone, Trump tweeted that “Getting along with Russia (and others) is a good thing, not a bad thing…”

The following month, however, Trump took to Twitter once again, saying that “our relationship with Russia is worse now than it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War.”

“If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability, because we have a horrible relationship with Russia,” he said at a news conference back then.

As president-elect in January 2017, he said he wanted a cordial relationship with Putin.

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