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White House: Trump 'open' to visiting Putin in Russia

President Donald Trump is "open" to visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow after he receives a "formal invitation," the White House said Friday.

But spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Trump "looks forward to having" Putin in Washington some time in 2019.

The announcement follows Putin's comments at an international gathering in South Africa in which he made the invitation to Moscow public, and said he is ready to visit Washington once "necessary conditions are created there."

It is unclear from Putin's comments what those conditions would be, but in announcing the delay of the prospective meeting from this upcoming fall until some time in 2019, a senior Trump administration official cited Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russia's alleged attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election and possible Trump campaign collusion.

The White House announced last week that Trump had directed his National Security Advisor John Bolton to extend an invitation to Putin amid criticism of Trump's handling of a summit with close NATO allies and subsequent meeting with Putin in Helsinki, Finland.

The U.S. intelligence community determined in January 2017 that Russia sought to interfere in the election in a bid to undercut Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Trump appeared to back Putin's denials of any role in the effort during their meeting before reneging on his comments after he returned to Washington.

Putin acknowledged at the summit that he favored the then-Republican nominee because Trump "was the one who wanted to normalize relations with Russia," but has consistently maintained the Kremlin had no part in interfering in the election.