With the investigation into colluding between the two countries during the 2016 presidential election at a fever pitch, President Donald Trump plans to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin during his current trip abroad.
CNN reports Trump plans to speak with Putin about the rising crisis involving North Korea and how the two countries might best go about brokering some sort of truce.
Trump made news of what will be the second face-to-face meeting between the two men since he took the Oval Office official while traveling to Japan on Air Force early Sunday.
Only days before he took off on the lengthy excursion, special counsel Robert Mueller moved to indict three men in connection with the Russia probe, all of whom were formally part of the Trump campaign.
Trump has long resisted the collusion talks that have dogged him and his administration, branding the entire investigation an elaborate “hoax.”
The president and many of his top aides had hoped the five-country tour kicking off in Asia would do wonders toward alleviating some of the mounting pressure brought on by the investigation.
Trump handlers insist Putin will be just one of several world leaders the president will meet with to discuss North Korea strategy.
“We want Putin’s help on North Korea, and we’ll be meeting with a lot of different leaders,” CNN reported the president said midway through the eight-hour flight to Tokyo from Honolulu, where he’d spent the night.
According to a senior administration official, the U.S. will determine “very soon” whether to designate North Korea a state sponsor of terror.
“The administration and Secretary (of State Rex) Tillerson and others in the administration are looking very closely right now whether to designate North Korea a state sponsor of terror,” the official said. “I would expect an answer very quickly.”
Reports are Trump and Putin have had talks about North Korea before, though this round of conversations could find Trump being more persuasive in attempting to have Putin come on board with his efforts.
“North Korea will be a primary subject” of conversation, the senior official added. “Russia borders North Korea. They are also very concerned I think with the direction that North Korea is leading the region toward into this crisis and naturally Russia should have a role in that future.”
Meanwhile, those indicted by Mueller thus far include former campaign manager Paul Manafort, and longtime business partner and campaign staffer Rick Gates and former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who has already pleaded guilty.
[Featured Image by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]