Trump aides deny summit with Putin planned


 Reuters International

U.S.President-elect Donald Trump gestures to people in the lobby after speaking to the news media with television personality Steve Harvey and businessman Greg Calhoun after their meeting at Trump Tower in New York, U.S., January 13, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two top aides to President-elect Donald Trump denied a published report on Saturday that he is planning to hold a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin weeks after taking office.

The Sunday Times of London reported that Trump had told British officials that such a summit was being planned, possibly to be staged in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik.

"The story is a fantasy," one Trump aide told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity. Another said the report was not true.

Trump, who takes office on Jan. 20, has spoken of seeking warmer relations with Russia.

He told the Wall Street Journal on Friday that he would "at least for a period of time" maintain sanctions against Russia put in place by President Barack Obama for cyber hacking.

But Trump suggested to the newspaper that he might lift the sanctions if Russia proved helpful in the fight against Islamic State militants and on other U.S. objectives.

Two of Trump's cabinet picks, Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary nominee James Mattis, have signalled a far harsher tone toward Moscow in their Senate confirmation hearings.

U.S. intelligence agencies blame Russia for cyber hacking that interfered with the U.S. presidential election. Trump has said he accepted the intelligence agencies' conclusion.

(Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Reuters

 Reuters International