Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said a second meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin would be "all to the good."
Pompeo was asked about the White House announcement Thursday that Trump has invited Putin to Washington in the fall, outreach that took the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats by surprise and deepened criticism of the US President's approach to Moscow after his widely condemned appearance with Putin in Helsinki on July 16.
Asked what the US has to gain from a second meeting, Pompeo said he was "happy that the two leaders of two very important countries are continuing to meet. If that meeting takes place in Washington, I think it's all to the good." Pompeo was speaking at the United Nations in New York, where he was attending meetings on North Korea.
Coats recently pointed to Russia as the most aggressive foreign actor trying to disrupt the US digital infrastructure and said the warning signs are "blinking red" on cyber attacks in advance of November's midterm elections. Critics have questioned why Trump would invite the Russian leader to Washington during election season.
Trump has come under particular criticism for the Helsinki meeting because he met one-on-one with Putin for more than 90 minutes — a highly irregular situation. Usually presidents are accompanied by senior staff and notetakers, who keep a record of meetings, but Trump was only accompanied by an interpreter.
In the days since the summit, Russian officials have referred repeatedly to agreements they say the two leaders reached, but there has been no explanation from the US side of what transpired in the room or what, if anything, was agreed to. Coats, for one, said he does not know what happened during the meeting.
Pompeo said Friday that conversations between senior leaders such as Trump and Putin are "incredibly important."
"We have our senior leaders meeting all across the world with people where we have deep disagreements with," the former CIA director said. "It is incredibly valuable to the people of the United States of America that President Putin and President Trump continue to engage in dialogue to resolve the difficult issues that our countries face between each other. I think this makes enormous sense, and I'm very hopeful that that meeting will take place this fall."
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