Trump, Putin Face-to-Face at G-20 Ends After More Than Two Hours. President Trump appears with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit and previews their closed door bilateral meeting. (Source: Bloomberg) President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin stretched their first-ever meeting beyond the two-hour mark, with Putin saying at the start that he was eager to have face-to-face conversations with the American president in place of their customary phone calls.
First meeting comes amidst backdrop of election meddling
Trump’s early hopes for closer ties tested by investigations
“President Putin and I have been discussing various things. I think it’s going very well,” Trump said as the meeting began at the Group of 20 Summit in Germany. “We look forward to a lot of positive things happening, for Russia, for the United States and for everybody concerned,” Trump said, telling Putin, “It’s an honor to be with you.” The Russian president addressed Trump as “your Excellency, Mr. President” and noted that the two men have spoken by phone several times. “But phone conversation is never enough definitely,” Putin said.
“I’m delighted to be able to meet you personally, Mr. President, and as you have said, I hope our meeting will yield positive results,” Putin said.
As the two leaders met, the Associated Press reported that the U.S. and Russia had reached agreement on a cease-fire for southwest Syria that would take effect at noon Damascus time on July 9. The AP cited three unnamed American officials in its report. The two leaders had shaken hands hours earlier at the start of the summit in Hamburg, Germany, and the U.S. president said in a tweet: “I look forward to all meetings today with world leaders, including my meeting with Vladimir Putin. Much to discuss.”
The agenda is expected to include sanctions against Russia for its treatment of Ukraine, as well as approaches to Syria, Iran and North Korea. The meeting comes at a low point in recent U.S.-Russia relations, amid a federal investigation and congressional probes into Russian interference in last year’s U.S. presidential elections. Those probes have spawned related inquiries into connections between Trump campaign and White House officials and Russians.
Trump came to office hoping to forge closer ties with Russia as a way to gain Putin’s help in stopping Islamic State, and in standing up to Iran. The investigations have largely sidelined those plans. In fact heading into Friday’s meeting, the U.S. president used a speech in Warsaw to take Russia to task for “destabilizing behavior” and urged Putin’s regime stop supporting “hostile regimes” in Iran and Syria. It was not clear if or to what extent Trump will raise the U.S. intelligence community’s assessments about Russian election meddling. Russia denies interfering. Trump said in a news conference the day before in Warsaw that it “could be Russia,” but “nobody really knows for sure.”