10:35 GMT22 January 2021
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    Donald Trump's first overseas trip in his new capacity is scheduled to take place in May, with the US president expected to participate in the summit of NATO leaders in Brussels, Belgium and the G7 summit in Taormina, Italy. Vzglyad columnist Petr Akopov suggested that Trump's schedule could also be extended to include a meeting with Putin.

    The NATO summit will be held on May 24-25, while the G7 summit is slated for May 26-27.

    "Donald Trump will try to turn his European trip if not into a triumph, then at least into a victory. He will clearly refrain from openly urging other EU nations to follow Britain's example and instead will try to calm European leaders wary of his pre-election rhetoric," the analyst noted. "Yet Trump will not abandon his anti-EU views … and Europe will hardly be able to challenge him since the European Union is in a deep and fundamental crisis."

    Akopov maintained that Trump's key foreign policy objective entails strengthening the US as a nation state, which among other things will require the new administration to limit its engagement in "meaningless and harmful" military operations. This is what he will focus on by "building personal relationships with key global stakeholders, those who have what he wants to achieve – independence."

    In this context, meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping are of primary importance to Trump.

    US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is said to be planning to come to Moscow in April. The Kremlin has not confirmed that the visit will take place, but if does, then Putin and Trump will be "one step away from a face-to-face meeting," as Akopov put it.

    "It seems increasingly likely that [a meeting with Putin] could take place during Trump's first visit to Europe in late May," the analyst said. "It makes sense. It is also more convenient than waiting for Trump's next visit to Europe scheduled to take place in early July. He will attend the G20 summit in Hamburg and will meet Putin there anyway."

    Akopov further said that a possible May meeting between Putin and Trump could take place on neutral territory "unless the campaign around Trump's 'Russian ties' will not subside to the extent that the new US president will be able to come to Moscow." The analyst named Slovenia, Finland, Switzerland or Austria as alternative locations. 

    The agenda of the first meeting is expected to cover key international topics and bilateral issues of mutual concern, including Daesh, the Syrian crisis and the Middle East, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Libya, North Korea, Iran, international trade, the New START and nuclear weapons.

    "It is not the agenda that will be significant, but rather the face-to-face meeting and first impressions that both leaders will have," the analyst added.

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    US foreign policy, NATO summit, G20 Summit, meeting, NATO, Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Europe, US, Russia
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