Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump will hold a summit in Helsinki on July 16, the Kremlin and the White House announced Thursday.
A terse synchronized statement said the two presidents will discuss bilateral issues and international relations. The announcement comes a day after Trump's National Security Adviser John Bolton held talks with Russian officials in Moscow to lay the groundwork for the summit.
"I've said it from Day One, getting along with Russia and with China and with everybody is a very good thing," Trump said Wednesday. "It's good for the world. It's good for us. It's good for everybody."
He said they would discuss Syria, Ukraine and "many other subjects."
The meeting between the two leaders will follow a gathering of Nato that is expected to be tense. The U.S president has repeatedly attacked the 29-member group for not paying their fair share of the military costs of the alliance and threatening to downgrade the U.S military commitments in Europe. Present will include the leaders of the G7 with whom the president fell out with so publically at their summit in Canada, in May.
Nato has been a keystone of the post war order but Trump has repeatedly shown his lack of faith in multilateralism with the U.S's traditional allies.
According to The Times, officials are worried that the president will go solo at his meeting with Putin and hand the Russian leader a propaganda victory by cancelling or changing the alliance's planned military exercises - as he did following his Singapore summit with Kim Jong Un.
Any such move could trigger an existential crisis for Nato, which has guaranteed western security since 1949 by relying on US military might, reported The Times.
Finland has been a favoured location for U.S.-Russian summits since the Cold war times, a role helped by its efforts to maintain friendly ties with its huge eastern neighbour.
The summit will offer Putin a chance to try to persuade Washington to lift some of the sanctions imposed on Russia over its 2014 annexation of Crimea, its support for separatists fighting the government in eastern Ukraine and its alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Ahead of the announcement, Trump repeated Russian denials of election interference, tweeting "Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election!"
Trump has continually parroted the Kremlin's denial of election interference, a move that has put him out of step with the findings of the U.S. intelligence community and nearly all Democrats and Republicans in Congress, who say there's clear evidence of Russian efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.
"The decision on holding a full-fledged summit is a very positive development," Russian upper house speaker Valentina Matvienko said Thursday in remarks carried by Russian news agencies. "We hope it will play a very important role in helping begin the normalization of Russia-U.S. ties."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is likely to meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo within the next two weeks as part of efforts to set the stage for the summit, according to Lavrov's deputy, Sergei Ryabkov.
Ryabkov said in remarks carried by Russian news agencies Thursday that Moscow already has made a proposal regarding the specifics of the meeting and is waiting for Washington's answer.
Finland served as a venue for a 1975 meeting between U.S. President Gerald Ford and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and also hosted a summit between U.S. President George H.W. Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990. In 1997, President Bill Clinton met his Russian counterpart Boris Yeltsin in Helsinki.