Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and US President Donald Trump shake hands before a meeting in Helsinki, on July 16, 2018. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)        (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
37 times President Trump was soft on Russia
06:25 - Source: CNN
Washington CNN  — 

National security adviser Robert O’Brien said Sunday that President Donald Trump will not have an in-person summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin before the November presidential election.

“We’ve rejected that,” O’Brien said when asked of such a meeting during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Trump in the last few months discussed the possibility of a meeting with Putin ahead of the November election, two sources close to the White House said. The sources, who have talked to White House officials, said that having a meeting in New York around the time of United Nations General Assembly was raised as a possibility.

The sources, however, believed that this was Putin’s idea and something Trump considered but not something that had been decided on. O’Brien on Sunday appeared to definitively say such a meeting was not happening.

Pressed later on whether the President has asked for a meeting with his Russian counterpart in the US, O’Brien answered, “No, we’re not doing a meeting with Putin in the United States.”

“We’d love to have Putin come here, hopefully, to sign a terrific arms control deal that protects Americans and protects Russians,” he added.

This week, Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea is going to be meeting with his Russian counterparts in Vienna, the State Department announced last week. This is his second round of arms control talks with the Russians this summer, following an earlier round in June.

Because the Trump administration has previously said its goal would be to strike an arms control deal with Russia and China, and China has repeatedly rejected these talks, it seems unlikely that any framework for arms control could be agreed to in the near future.

O’Brien said Sunday that the US is interested in having better relations and brokering an arms control deal with Russia.

“When the Soviet Union was there and the evil empire was there, Ronald Reagan negotiated to try and reduce the nuclear weapons that are pointed at each country. We’d like to see that happen. We’d like to have good relations with Russia, but that’s up to the Russians,” O’Brien said.

The Trump administration has abandoned a number of key arms control pacts, most recently the Open Skies Treaty, in favor of seeking a three-party agreement with Russia and China. The insistence on a trilateral agreement is widely seen as a way to scuttle New START, the nuclear reduction treaty between the US and Russia that is set to expire in February 2021. Beijing has dismissed calls to participate in trilateral talks.

O’Brien also said that instead of a pre-election meeting with Trump, the Russians are proposing a summit with the UN Security Council’s five permanent members, known as the P5, to try to “bully” the US back into the Iran nuclear deal. Trump said Saturday he did not want to participate in a virtual summit on Iran.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

CNN’s Devan Cole and Jennifer Hansler contributed to this report.