President Donald Trump is planning to meet one-on-one with Russian leader Vladimir Putin at their summit July 16 in Helsinki. Other aids will be allowed to join the highly anticipated encounter after. Sources told CNN that while Trump has already met the Russian president, the private meeting will allow Trump to develop the relationship between the two leaders.

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Trump has shown his affinity for closed-door meetings already during his historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un last month. He wanted to take the measure of Kim personally and gauge their chemistry, according to CNN. Some U.S. officials expressed their concern about a meeting without any other aides present. Putin is known as a shrewd negotiator so a lack of any official record could make it difficult afterwards to determine whether agreements have been reached.


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At the G20 summit in Germany last year, Trump and Putin and spoke privately for over two hours accompanied only by translators, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The two reportedly had another meeting later in the evening where the two spoke for nearly an hour, with only Putin’s translator present. The White House downplayed the significance of the encounter, but experts expressed concern there was no official U.S. record of the talk.

This time, a larger delegation of aides are expected for discussions about issues like Syria, nuclear weapons and the election meddling. “The goal of this meeting really is for the two leaders to have a chance to sit down, not in the context of some larger multilateral meeting, but just the two of them, to go over what is on their mind about a whole range of issues,” national security adviser John Bolton told CBS’s Face the Nation.

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