Two days after the Kremlin said there was a "strong possibility" that Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin will meet on the sidelines of the upcoming Asia-Pacific summit in Vietnam, the Trump White House has seemingly caved to outside pressure and confirmed that there are currently no plans for a formal meeting between Putin and Trump on the sidelines of the summit.
The Kremlin had announced that both sides were working on a suitable time and format for a meeting when both men are in Vietnam starting Friday. But US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had downplayed the possibility in an interview on his flight from China to Vietnam. He said if there wasn't the likelihood of progress on a number of issues, there was no point to a meeting. The White House communications department later confirmed Tillerson's assessment.
As Bloomberg points out, any Putin-Trump meeting would be fraught with complications given the recent indictments of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Furthermore, the revelation that former foreign policy aide George Papadopoulos agreed to cooperate with the probe over the summer – and may even have worn a wire in meetings with Trump associates – has created tension among Trump's inner circle.