by Compiled from Wire Services
Jan 16, 2017 12:00 am
Two top aides to President-elect Donald Trump denied a published report that he is planning to hold a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin weeks after taking office.
The Sunday Times of London reported that Trump had told British officials that such a summit was being planned, possibly to be staged in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik. "The story is a fantasy," one Trump aide told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity. Another said the report was not true.
Trump, who takes office on Jan. 20, has spoken of seeking warmer relations with Russia. He told the Wall Street Journal on Friday that he would "at least for a period of time" maintain sanctions against Russia put in place by President Barack Obama for cyber hacking.
But Trump suggested to the newspaper that he might lift the sanctions if Russia proved helpful in the fight against Daesh militants and on other U.S. objectives.
Two of Trump's cabinet picks, Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary nominee James Mattis, have signaled a far harsher tone toward Moscow in their Senate confirmation hearings.
Trump's national security and diplomatic leaders have voiced sharp skepticism about the prospects for a warmer relationship with Moscow despite Trump's praise of Putin.
"Russia is raising grave concerns on several fronts," retired Gen. James Mattis, chosen to run the Pentagon, told senators. "I have very modest expectations for areas of cooperation with Mr. Putin," who he said is "trying to break the North Atlantic alliance."Tillerson expressed unqualified support for NATO's "inviolable" Article 5, which requires the allies to come to the defense of any member that is invaded. This, after Trump in the campaign suggested the U.S. might not defend its NATO allies if they came under attack if some did not contribute more money to the alliance.