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Putin invited to Washington by John Bolton "after the first of the year"

Biden: Trump "seems to have a love affair with autocrats"

The Trump administration renewed an invitation to Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit Washington, DC in 2019, national security adviser John Bolton said Friday.

"We have invited President Putin to Washington after the first of the year for basically a full day of consultations," Bolton said at a news conference in Tbilisi, Georgia. "What the schedule of that is, we do not quite know yet."

It was not clear if President Putin had accepted the invitation. Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

If Putin accepts, it would be his first visit to the White House since 2005, when he met with former President George W. Bush. Putin last traveled to the United States in 2015, when he met briefly with former President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

Bolton had just arrived in Tbilisi from Moscow, where he had spoken with President Putin about the United States' decision to withdraw from a Cold War-era nuclear arms treaty that Bolton had described as "obsolete" and accused the Russians of violating.

At a separate press conference of his own on Tuesday, Putin called the decision "very dangerous."

"There would be nothing left except an arms race," Putin said.

The United States' relationship with Russia has been fraught with tension for years, including during the Trump administration. U.S. intelligence agencies concluded with high confidence that Putin ordered an influence campaign during the 2016 presidential election intended to undermine the U.S. democratic process and harm Secretary Clinton's electability. Russia has denied it interfered.

Over the past two years, the Trump administration has issued several rounds of sanctions against Russia. It also closed a West Coast consulate and expelled 60 diplomats in March as retribution for Moscow's alleged role in poisoning a former spy in the United Kingdom.

Putin and President Trump have already met several times overseas, including most recently at a bilateral summit held in Helsinki, Finland. Mr. Trump's apparent unwillingness to condemn Russia's misbehavior at a subsequent news conference drew widespread condemnation, and some ridicule, from those who thought his deference to the Russian leader – and his ambivalence about the work of U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies – were inapt for an American president.

Bolton also indicated on Friday that the two presidents would meet briefly in Paris next month during a celebration of the centennial of the armistice ending World War One. "It will be a brief meeting," Bolton said.

Friday's announcement was not the first time Bolton extended an invitation to Putin to visit Washington.

In July, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a tweet that President Trump had asked Bolton to invite the Russian leader to visit the U.S. in the fall.

The news came as a surprise to several officials in the president's cabinet, including Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, who found out about the invitation during a question-and-answer session at a security conference in Aspen, Colorado.

"Say that again?" he said at first, prompting laughter from the audience. "That's going to be special."

That invitation was subsequently delayed, Bolton later said, because the president wanted to wait until after the end of the special counsel's ongoing investigation into links between the Russian government and members of the Trump campaign.

"The president believes that the next bilateral meeting with President Putin should take place after the Russia witch hunt is over," Bolton told reporters at the time, "so we've agreed that it will be after the first of the year."

The special counsel has not made public a timeline for the expected conclusion of its investigation.

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