By DARLENE SUPERVILLE, Associated Press
President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin of Russia have met formally and informally at least three times in the nearly 18 months since Trump has held office. But their summit Monday in Helsinki, the seaside capital of Finland, promises to outdo their past face-to-face encounters.
For starters, Trump and Putin are meeting at Finland's Presidential Palace that overlooks the Baltic Sea instead of in a sparsely decorated, windowless room in a bustling convention hall.
Trump and Putin will first meet one on one before they are joined by aides for an expanded discussion that extends into lunch. The leaders are expected to take questions from journalists at the conclusion of the summit, which would mark the first time they have done so together.
Trump has insisted on the meeting, saying it will be a "good thing" if sitting down with Russia's leader improves relations between the U.S. and Russia. But Trump's efforts to meet have been complicated by a continuing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and skepticism about his outreach to Putin.
"I don't know him. I met him twice, maybe three times. Two-and-a-half times," Trump said last week in Britain. "If we could develop a relationship which is good for Russia, good for us, good for everybody, that would be great."
A look at Trump's past meetings with Putin.
Above: U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hand at the beginning of a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, Monday, July 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)