Rudy Giuliani, a personal lawyer of U.S. President Donald Trump, has abruptly canceled a scheduled appearance at a conference in Armenia that is expected to feature Russian leader Vladimir Putin, RFE/RL reports.
The Washington Post on September 27 had revealed hours earlier that Giuliani, a key figure in a controversy over Trump’s telephone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, had confirmed in an interview that he planned to take part in a panel at the conference.
But after the Post reported that he would attend the event, Giuliani reversed himself and said he would not take part.
He told the Post that “I didn’t know Putin was going” and that “discretion is the better part of valor” in explaining his reversal.
According to the report, Giuliani said he had “never seen” the forum's website with participants and agenda.
“I thought I was going at an Armenian security conference,” he added.
The White House and State Department declined to comment.
The forum’s website agenda said Giuliani would participate in the event, scheduled for the Armenian capital, Yerevan, on September 30 to October 1 and would join a panel led by Sergei Glazyev, a longtime Putin aide who has been under U.S. and European Union sanctions since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014.
The website says the organizers are the government of Armenia; the Moscow-based Eurasian Economic Union, a trade alliance launched by Putin in 2014 as a counterweight to the European Union; the World Armenian Congress; the Russian Ministry of Trade; and the Eurasian Economic Commission.
Organizers said that along with Putin, Iranian President Hassan Rohani is scheduled to attend the forum.
The Post had reported that Giuliani’s decision to attend the event had “astounded national security experts.”
His appearance would have taken place days after he has come under scrutiny for his role in dealings with officials in Ukraine in what has become the heart of an impeachment inquiry in the U.S. House of Representatives against Trump.