President Donald J. Trump will be speaking with several world leaders Saturday. Trump will speak with the prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and in the afternoon the President of France, Francois Hollande, and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Of course, all the leaders on the roster are equally important, but the one that the US may be paying the most attention to is the morning call with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
With the already rocky relationship and recent sanctions implemented on Russia by the Obama administration, Saturday’s calls will leave the US in suspense. Although President Trump said Friday that it was “too early” to discuss lifting the sanctions against Russia, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway suggested that it would be a hot topic.
“All of that is under consideration,” Conway said, replying to a specific question regarding lifting sanctions.
In late December of 2016, towards the end of Obama’s presidency, the Obama administration announced the sanctions against Russia. It included the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats based out of Washington DC, who were told they had 72 hours to leave the United States along with their families, and the shutting down of two Russian government owned compounds in Maryland and New York.
The sanctions were said to be a response to cyber attacks and an infringement on US elections.
“This activity by Russian intelligence services is part of a decade-long campaign of cyber-enabled operations directed at the U.S. Government and its citizens,” said a statement from the FBI and DHS. “These cyber operations have included spearphishing, campaigns targeting government organizations, critical infrastructure, think tanks, universities, political organizations, and corporations; theft of information from these organizations; and the recent public release of some of this stolen information.”
Later Friday evening officials from Trump’s administration denied the lifting of the sanctions, but stated that the current plan is to do just the opposite. President Trump, however, does indicate a wish for “warmer” relationships not only with Russia, but with countries around the globe.
“I hear a call was set up and we will see what happens,” Trump said during a White House news conference.“We’re looking to have a great relationship with all countries,” He added, “If we can have a great relationship with Russia and China and all countries, I’m all for that.”“…How the relationship works out, I won’t be able to tell you that (until) later. I’ve had many times where I thought I’d get along with people and I don’t like them at all.”