Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke to reporters Thursday
He would not confirm an anticipated upcoming meeting between Trump and Putin
US officials are still working to determine whether President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin have sufficient areas of substance to discuss that would warrant a bilateral meeting in Vietnam this week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Thursday.
The US and Russia are working on a “number of difficult areas” but that officials haven’t determined whether the time is appropriate for the two presidents to discuss them, he told reporters during a briefing in Beijing.
“When the two leaders meet, is there something sufficiently substantive?” Tillerson said. “No conclusion has been made on that.”
But a Russian presidential aide is quoted in the state run news organization Tass saying that the meeting is happening.
“The time (of the meeting) is being agreed on, it will take place on November 10,” Russian Presidential Aide Yuri Ushakov is quoted as saying.
Trump previously said he will seek to enlist Putin this week on a mission to confront an increasingly truculent North Korea during their second face-to-face meeting.
Trump said aboard Air Force One as he winged toward Japan on Sunday that he expected the sit-down to occur on the sidelines of a summit for Asia-Pacific leaders in Vietnam, which is due to begin Thursday.
“We want Putin’s help on North Korea, and we’ll be meeting with a lot of different leaders,” Trump said midway through the eight-hour flight to Tokyo from Honolulu, where he’d spent the night.
Tillerson listed efforts in Syria and the Middle East as top among the issues the two countries are discussing. Trump and Putin will both attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam.
And asked by CNN’s Jeff Zeleny whether the list also still includes Russia’s attempts to interfere in the US election, he said it did.
“It stays on that list,” he said.
CNN’s Fred Pleitgen contributed to this report.