Trump aides deny summit with Putin planned

A billboard showing a pictures of US president-elect Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen through pedestrians in Danilovgrad, Montenegro on Nov 16, 2016.
A billboard showing a pictures of US president-elect Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen through pedestrians in Danilovgrad, Montenegro on Nov 16, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two top aides to President-elect Donald Trump denied a published report on Saturday (Jan 14) 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 Islamic State in Iraq and Syria militants and on other US 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.

US intelligence agencies blame Russia for cyber hacking that interfered with the US presidential election. Trump has said he accepted the intelligence agencies' conclusion.