WASHINGTON: United States President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that he’ll probably be meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin during an upcoming trip to Europe in July. He also told reporters at White House that the meeting will likely happen in Helsinki or Vienna — after the July 11-12 NATO summit in Brussels.

Trump also said he will discuss the war in Syria and the situation in Ukraine with his Russian counterpart.

The US president, who has said he wants better relations with Russia, last met Putin in November in Vietnam on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific summit.

A foreign affairs adviser to Putin had said earlier on Wednesday that Moscow and Washington had agreed on the date and location for a summit, but said details would not be released until Thursday. Trump said he’d be receiving an update soon from national security adviser John Bolton. Bolton, who had travelled to Moscow to lay the groundwork for the encounter, earlier confirmed at a news conference that the meeting will take place.

A short while earlier, Kremlin foreign policy aide Yuri Ushakov said that the summit would be held in a “third country” in a few weeks. “This meeting has been planned for a long time,” Ushakov told reporters. “It has enormous importance for Russia and America, but it (also) has huge importance for the whole international situation. I think it will be the main international event of the summer.”

Ushakov spoke of a possible joint declaration at the summit on improving US-Russia relations and international security and said the Kremlin was pleased with how Bolton’s visit had gone. Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov might also meet his US counterpart Mike Pompeo, he added.

Such a summit is likely to irritate US allies who want to isolate Putin, such as UK, or who are concerned about Trump’s attitude towards Russia. It is also likely to go down badly among foreign and domestic critics who question Trump’s commitment to NATO and fret over his desire to rebuild ties with Moscow even as Washington tightens sanctions.

Trump congratulated Putin by phone in March after the Russian leader’s landslide re-election victory and said the two would meet soon. Since then, already poor ties between Washington and Moscow have deteriorated further over the conflict in Syria and the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain which sparked big diplomatic expulsions in both countries.

Washington and Moscow are also at odds over Ukraine and allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election, something Russia denies. A special prosecutor in the US has indicted Russian firms and individuals for meddling in the presidential election to benefit Trump, and is investigating whether anyone in Trump’s campaign helped the Russian effort. Trump denies wrongdoing.

Putin told Bolton on Wednesday that US-Russia relations were not “in the best shape”, something he said he put down to domestic political tussling in the United States. “...But your visit to Moscow gives us hope that we can at least take the first steps to restore full-scale relations between our states,” he said. “Russia never sought confrontation”.

Aware that his own visit and the summit will draw criticism from some quarters, Bolton stressed the importance of talking to each other despite disagreements. “Even in earlier days, when our countries had differences our leaders and their advisers met and I think that was good for both countries, good for stability in the world. President Trump feels very strongly on that subject.”