President Donald Trump will speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone Saturday amid reports he is considering lifting U.S. sanctions against Russia over its military action in Ukraine.
Trump is also scheduled to speak Saturday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom he has criticized, Reuters reported. Merkel met Friday with French President Francois Hollande amid concerns over Trump’s signals that he’s willing to considering lifting the sanctions in a effort to improve relations with the Kremlin, and Trump’s protectionist trade rhetoric.
“Let’s say it honestly, there is the challenge posed by the new U.S. administration, regarding trade rules and what our position will be on managing conflicts in the world,” Reuters reported Hollande telling reporters.
Trump senior aide Kellyanne Conway told CBS that the conversation will focus on several topics, including combatting terrorism.
Trump has expressed an openness to lifting sanctions on Russia in exchange for assisting with terrorism, CNN reported.
The U.S. and the European Union initially imposed sanctions on Russia after it annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014. Former President Barack Obama imposed further sanctions on Russia after intelligence showed Russian agents attempted to interfere with the 2016 election.
Trump initially disputed those allegations but has recently said he believes there was Russian involvement.