WASHINGTON—The White House is planning for a potential summit between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to people familiar with the efforts, a meeting that would bring to the international stage one of the world’s most enigmatic political relationships and possibly ease tensions that have grown to Cold War proportions.
A senior administration official said Friday that Jon Huntsman, the U.S. ambassador to Russia, has been in Washington to help arrange a meeting between Messrs. Trump and Putin.
The planning is still at an early stage, the official said, with the two nations needing to agree on a date and location.
“This has been an ongoing project of Ambassador Huntsman, stretching back months, of getting a formal meeting between Putin and Trump,” the official said.
Any meeting between the two presidents would be expected to include discussions on Syria, Ukraine and nuclear-arms control. The summit’s purpose would be to resolve longstanding differences, people familiar with the matter said.
The summit would mark the third meeting between Messrs. Trump and Putin, who held discussions on the sidelines of two international meetings in 2017—one at the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg last July and at a November summit in Vietnam.
In April, Yuri Ushakov, a former Russian ambassador to the U.S. and now an aide to Mr. Putin, told reporters in Moscow that Mr. Trump had invited Mr. Putin to Washington during a March 20 phone call.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, responding to questions about Mr. Ushakov’s revelation, confirmed the invitation. “The two had discussed a bilateral meeting in the ‘not-too-distant future’ at a number of potential venues, including the White House,” Ms. Sanders said at the time.
Mr. Trump is currently focusing on the summit with Kim Jong Un, the North Korean leader, according to an administration official. “If negotiations there continue, [work on the Russia summit] will be delayed,” the official said.
The Russia summit “will be focused on specifics not grand bargaining,” the official said. “Those things need to be negotiated.”
—Michael R. Gordon contributed to this article.
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