What if you had the perfect place for a U.S.-Russia Summit, but neither Donald Trump nor Vladimir Putin had yet agreed to attend?
You read it here first. They’re going to settle on Slovenia, for a variety of sensible, perhaps even compelling, reasons.
Meeting with Putin at the Kremlin Friday, Slovenian President Borut Pahor issued the invitation, which Putin called an “excellent” location for his initial encounter with the new American leader. “It depends not only on us,” Putin noted, “but we are naturally ready for it.”
A summit soon, probably later this year, was one of the topics discussed and agreed upon during Trump’s hour-long phone conversation with Putin on Jan. 28. Putin said he welcomed Trump’s talk about improving relations after the frosty ties of the Obama presidency.
“We always welcomed that and we hope that relations will be restored in full in all areas,” Putin said. “It relates to trade and economic ties, security issues and various regions of the world, which are suffering from numerous conflicts. By pooling our efforts, we naturally would be able to significantly contribute to solving those issues, including the fight against international terrorism.”
Long a part of the Hapsburg Empire, Slovenia is a small, mountainous Central European country of about two million that broke away from Yugoslavia in a 10-day war of independence in 1991. It’s slightly smaller than New Jersey and is tucked in between Switzerland, Austria, Italy and Croatia.
But that’s not why Slovenia, possibly in its capital of Ljubljana (Loob-lee-yana), makes so much sense for a summit.
Slovenia has a history of summits. It hosted the first meeting of Putin and new U.S. President George W. Bush back on June 16, 2001.
Both men said their session was warm and went well, though Bush was dogged by a later description of finding Putin “straight-forward and trustworthy,” giving the impression the Texan had naively trusted the Russian. Trump critics have raised similar concerns about his hopeful expressions of building a good relationship with Putin.
Possibly the coolest reason for the Russian-US rendezvous in Slovenia is that it’s Melania Trump’s homeland where she was educated and grew up. Slovene is one of five languages spoken by the new first lady.