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Russia ready to refute US election meddling allegations, spokesman says

The Russian government is prepared to refute its meddling in the 2016 US presidential election when President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin sit down for their first official summit next month, a Kremlin spokesman said Friday.

The two leaders will meet on July 16 in Helsinki, Finland, where they will discuss relations between the two countries as well as “national security issues,” the White House has said.

“If the US President raises this issue, the Russian President absolutely will be ready to repeat once again that Russia had nothing to do with it and could not have anything to do with this thing that is surrounded by so many insinuations,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Friday in Moscow.

He said that “serious preparation” was underway for the planned meeting between the two leaders but gave few new details on the agenda.

“It’s a serious preparation. You know that many people are waiting for this summit, there is a very serious conversation on very complicated issues ahead,” Peskov said in a conference call with reporters.

US national security adviser John Bolton and Vice President Mike Pence have both said that Trump would likely raise the election meddling issue during his meeting with Putin.

But ahead of the summit’s official announcement on Thursday, Trump tweeted that Moscow “continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election!”

Last November, Trump also said he believed Putin’s denial that Russia did not seek to interfere in the 2016 election, despite a finding from US intelligence agencies that it did.

“He said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One then after interacting with Putin at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

Peskov also said Friday that there was “no specific idea” to invite Trump to the World Cup final match on July 15 in Russia, which is hosting the major international soccer tournament.