DESPITE the uproar in Washington after Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin met in Helsinki last week, the Russian president said another meeting with his US counterpart was still on the agenda and that both leaders want additional summits.

“Regarding our meetings, I understand very well what President Trump said. He has a desire to have further meetings,” Mr Putin told reporters in South Africa, where he was attending a summit of BRICS nations: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

“I am ready for that,” Mr Putin said.

“We need for the appropriate conditions to exist, to be created, including in our countries.” Following the backlash in the US over Mr Trump’s cordial public tone with Mr Putin at the Helsinki summit, US and Russian officials backed away from Mr Trump’s proposal to schedule a follow-up meeting in Washington in the fall.

Two days after postponing that invitation, the White House made clear on Friday that Trump remained enthusiastic about another Russia summit.

“President Trump looks forward to having President Putin to Washington after the first of the year, and he is open to visiting Moscow upon receiving a formal invitation,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

The last time Mr Trump was in the Russian capital was in 2013, to attend a Miss Universe beauty pageant.

Referring to the proposal for a meeting in the United States, Mr Putin said: “I am ready to go to Washington. I repeat once again, if the right conditions for work are created.” Putin said that, in the meantime, it was possible that he and Trump would meet on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Argentina in November or at another international event.

Meanwhile, President Trump has denied he knew in advance about a Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 between a Russian lawyer, his eldest son and other campaign aides, convened to hear dirt on his Presidential Election rival, Hillary Clinton.

Trump tweeted overnight, “NO,” he “did NOT know of the meeting with my son, Don Jr.”

CNN reported on Thursday that Mr Trump’s former longtime lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, claims Mr Trump knew in advance about the meeting.

CNN cited anonymous sources saying Mr Cohen was willing to share that information with special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating possible collusion between Mr Trump’s campaign and Russia.

A person familiar with the investigation confirmed the CNN report to The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because the person wasn’t authorised to speak publicly.

Mr Cohen wasn’t at the Trump Tower meeting and Cohen has not offered evidence to support the claim that Mr Trump knew about the meeting. He does not have any recordings of the meeting, the person said.

Mr Trump’s team met with the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, believing she had dirt on Clinton to share.

The Associated Press reported this week that Ms Veselnitskaya worked more closely with senior Russian government officials than she previously let on, based on scores of emails, transcripts and legal documents that show her to be a well-connected lawyer who served as a ghostwriter for top Russian government lawyers and received assistance from senior Interior Ministry personnel in a case involving a key client.

Mr Trump, who in the past has denied knowing about the meeting before it happened, also shot back at Mr Cohen, who was once so loyal to Mr Trump that he said he’d take a bullet for his boss.

“Sounds to me like someone is trying to make up stories in order to get himself out of an unrelated jam,” Mr Trump tweeted, adding: “(Taxi cabs maybe?). He even retained Bill and Crooked Hillary’s lawyer. Gee, I wonder if they helped him make the choice!”

Mr Cohen, whose business dealings are being investigated by the FBI, has longtime dealings in the taxi industry and owns several medallions for New York City yellow cabs that allow them to pick up passengers on the street. Mr Cohen lawyer Guy Petrillo did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

It comes as Russian news reports say Russian President Vladimir Putin is ready to invite Donald Trump to Moscow, and that he’s willing to visit Washington if he feels the conditions are right.

Mr Putin made the comments on Friday at a news conference at the summit of leaders of the of BRICs countries in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Interfax news agency said he expressed readiness to invite Mr Trump. The agency quoted Mr Putin as saying “He has, by the way, such an invitation, and I told him about it.”

It was not immediately clear if Putin was referring to a formal invitation or a verbal one in spirit.

Interfax quoted Mr Putin as saying he is ready to visit Washington “if the appropriate conditions are created there.”