Trump’s weird Vladimir Putin suggestion
DONALD Trump has invited Vladimir Putin to the White House for a meeting, in a bizarre development after the poisoning saga escalated global tensions.
As nations across the world slapped sanctions on each other following a nerve agent attack blamed on Russia, the US President has extended a hand of friendship to the nation's president.
What made the move even stranger was that the Kremlin was first to announce the news.
Mr Trump reportedly suggested a White House summit during a phone call between the two leaders on Tuesday, March 20, in which the President controversially congratulated the Russian leader on his election win.
He had been warned not to do by aides so in a leaked note that read: "DO NOT CONGRATULATE."
"When our presidents spoke on the phone, Trump suggested having the meeting in Washington at the White House," Kremlin foreign policy aide Yuri Ushakov told reporters on Monday. "This is quite an interesting, positive idea."
Mr Ushakov said preparations for the summit had been disrupted by the expulsions of Russian diplomats from countries around the world, and retaliatory expulsions of foreign ambassadors in Russia.
Mr Trump won widespread approval when he announced the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats from the US last week. Many other nations - including Australia, Canada and 18 EU countries - also took the step, in a show of unity with the UK after the poisoning of on an ex-spy and his daughter in Britain. Russia denies responsibility for the attack.
Moscow responded to the US sanctions by sending home 60 of its diplomats and closing Washington's consulate in Saint Petersburg.
But Mr Trump's unorthodox invitation to Mr Putin is already triggering renewed criticism of the President over his relationship with Russia, after accusations the nation meddled in the 2016 US presidential elections.
"It was Trump himself who proposed holding the meeting," said Mr Ushakov. "But after that, a new breakdown in our bilateral ties has taken place, the diplomats have been expelled."
Mr Ushakov said the expulsions had meant "there was no time for discussion and there wasn't even anyone to discuss it with," adding that the Kremlin hoped the US had now stopped actions against Russia so "serious and constructive dialogue" could begin.
Washington has also said Russia is free to apply to accredit more diplomats to replace those expelled.
Mr Trump said after the call following the Russian elections that he and Mr Putin would get together "in the not-too-distant future". The two leaders met last July at a G20 summit in Hamburg.
Meanwhile, Russia successfully tested a new air defence missile, as the US President spent Monday morning posting angry tweets about "dreamer" immigrants.
"DACA is dead because the Democrats didn't care or act, and now everyone wants to get onto the DACA bandwagon... No longer works. Must build Wall and secure our borders with proper Border legislation. Democrats want No Borders, hence drugs and crime!" he tweeted.
"Mexico is making a fortune on NAFTA...They have very strong border laws - ours are pathetic. With all of the money they make from the U.S., hopefully they will stop people from coming through their country and into ours, at least until Congress changes our immigration laws!"
He also ranted about Amazon, fake news and said the Department of Justice was "an embarrassment to our country."
The President and his wife Melania are today hosting the White House's biggest social event of the year, the Easter Egg Roll.
Nearly 30,000 adults and children festivities are gathered on the South Lawn for the event, after the First Lady announced last week that lawn bowling has been added to a roster of festivities that includes the tradition of rolling of hard-boiled eggs across the grass.
There's also a nook where Mrs Trump and other officials will take turns reading books and a station for kids to make greeting cards for US troops. The White House Easter Egg Roll dates to 1878.
- With wires